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Teacher Training Series
W. W. CHARTERS
Professor of Educaiion, Carnegie Institute of Technology
L. J. HANIFAN
STATE SUPERVISOR OF RURAL SCHOOLS
/ ' ^ . >'
SILVER, BURDETT & COMPANY
BOSTON NEW YORK CHICAGO SAN FRANCISCO
Bt silver, BUEDETT & COMPANY.
In 1913, at the suggestion of Hon. M. P. Shawkey,
State Superintendent of Schools of West Virginia, I pre-
pared A Handbook for Community Meetings at Rural
Schoolhouses, for the use of West Virginia teachers in
a campaign for reviving community social life, particu-
larly in rural and village communities. Soon after this
handbook was issued. Dr. P. P. Claxton requested, and
was furnished, thirty-five hundred copies for distribution
among the county superintendents of the United States.
The continued demand for this handbook has been such
that finally the editor of this series requested me to pre-
pare the manuscript of a book on the community center,
for teachers and educators interested in this movement,
which should cover the entire field in a more compre-
Briefly stated, the book undertakes to present some of
the more important rural life problems, particularly
as regards rural social life and recreation, and to offer
suggestions as to how the teacher, by means of the school
as a community center, may contribute very largely
to the solution of these problems. In order that the
reader may not conclude too readily that some of the
suggestions are fanciful, I have taken the liberty to quote
a few of the many statements which teachers have made
to me by letter as to how they have put these suggestions
iv Author's Preface
into practice, and what they have accomplished thereby
in the estabhshment and maintenance of community
centers. Chapters XI and XII contain suggestive pro-
grams, most of which have been successfully used by
In the preparation of this book I am indebted to so
large a number of authors and educators that I am un-
able to give proper acknowledgments. I am especially
indebted to the editor and to Hon. M. P. Shawkey, whose
inspiration led me to undertake the writing of this volume.
SUGGESTIONS FOR USING THE BOOK
This book has been prepared in the hope that it will be
serviceable to superintendents, supervisors, and teachers
in carrying forward the community center work which
is now well under way among rural and village com-
munities in nearly all the states. The aim has been to
emphasize strongly two things which the author believes
to be fundamental in any plan that may be followed in
the improvement of rural life conditions: (1) The re-
direction of rural life forces must be effected by the rural
people themselves; (2) for the present, and probably
for a good many years to come, the active work of such
redirection must be carried on mainly by means of com-
munity activities centering .around the school and under
the active leadership of school superintendents, super-
visors, and teachers, with the cooperation of all other
available agencies of leadership.
In some states one of the major functions of the county
teachers' institute is to map out the general plans for the
work of the schools in the ensuing school year. Such
plans should be laid by the county superintendent and
Author^ s Preface V
the supervisors and teachers working together. The
important consideration is that all shall understand what
the plans are and how best to carry them out in the
schools. Under such conditions this book will be sug-
gestive in formulating plans for carrying on the commu-
nity center activities. As the work proceeds, divisional
supervisors and principals will be able, in teachers' meet-
ings and conferences with teachers, to work out the details
of such plans and to adapt them to the local conditions.
Chapters I to V deal with some of the more fundamental
principles underlying the community center movement
as related to rural life conditions. Chapters VI to X are
intended to indicate the nature and the scope of com-
munity center activities and, partly by discussion and
partly by illustration, to offer some suggestions for carry-
ing on the community center work. Chapters XI and
XII contain a number of programs which may be found
suggestive to teachers or other community leaders in
making definite plans for the meetings. Chapter XI
deals with entertainment programs, while Chapter XII
suggests programs bearing upon country life. But since
these two kinds of program may be used interchangeably,
the reader would do well in actual practice to regard
these two chapters as one.
In reading a book of this kind, one is apt to read the
chapter first and then give more or less casual attention
to the exercises at the end of the chapter. This method
of reading might be improved by first examining the
" exercises " as a guide to the reading. It is believed
that the use of the book for reading circle purposes may
be made most helpful by the latter method.
I L. J. Hanifan.
The truism that man is a social animal, which has been
accepted with growing importance by sociologists for
several generations, is now becoming an integral portion
of the principles of education, and during the past few
years much attention has been given to exploiting and
developing this idea. But, as in all activities of the in-
stincts, favorable conditions are demanded for the de-
velopment of sociality and unfavorable conditions cause
it to fall into atrophy and disuse.
In no situation is this more noticeably manifested than
in the rhythmic rise and fall of sociality in rural com-
munities. Our parents relate with pride and affection
their early reminiscences of the singing schools, the spelling
bees, and the revival meetings of their youth. In those
earlier days when transportation was slow, when books
were few and newspapers scarce, the instinctive demands
for amusement and intercourse could be met solely or
chiefly by the social gathering, which seemed to be best
nurtured and maintained when centered around some
such intellectual or emotional interest.
But with the passing of time, in the country districts
other means of satisfying these social demands have
developed. Rural delivery brings the news of the out-
side world in newspapers, magazines, and letters; the
automobile makes the nearest village as close as was the
neighbor's house formerly; and from the village, trains
can carry the rural resident to his metropolis in a few
Editor's Preface vii
hours. The substantial citizens around whom and whose
famines the social life of the community naturally circu-
lates are moving to the cities to give their children the
opportunities for education which were not known or
realized a generation ago. The school teacher, once an
important citizen of the community, is now a young
man or woman serving his immature apprenticeship
before entering upon a teaching or business career in the
Under these conditions it is only natural that the rural
family should get its news of world events from the
newspaper and its amusement in the city, that the social
gatherings of the past should disappear, and that social
cohesiveness should be destroyed by a multitude of dis-
tracting forces. But it is also only natural that, once
these distractions have been weighed and placed in their
proper position in perspective, thoughtful rural leaders
should seek to restore the values obtained in community
organizations. Not that it is possible or desirable to
return to the earlier forms of social organization, but that
the spirit of the old be reintegrated in the forms of the
new. Not that rural free delivery should be abolished
and the automobile discarded, but that these should be
used along with other improvements of rural living, for
the development of a more powerful form of social life.
To the accomplishment of this end the community
center has become a valuable agency which, although
yet in its infancy, has been productive of great good in
restoring the pleasures of country life, reinstating the
teacher in his rightful place of leadership, and making
educational conditions so satisfactory that families do
not need to leave the community in order to obtain at-
viii Editor's Preface
In this field the author is a leader of national im-
portance among school men. He has demonstrated
the value of the methods by carrying them into success-
ful practice, and by virtue of his practical experience he
is able not only to describe the theories of developing
community centers but to do what is absolutely essential
— provide the reader with specific illustrations of the
richest suggestiveness for carrying the theories into action.
While these illustrations are chiefly applicable to com-
munities in the open country, the theories apply with
equal validity to the cities, and the illustrations are sug-
gestive of methods which may be used in urban com-
w. w. c.
Chapter I. The Community Center and the World
Chapter II. Leadership and the Community Center . 17
Chapter III. The Community Center Idea ... 40
Chapter IV. The Enjoyment of Leisure ... 57
Chapter V. Recreation 71
Chapter VI. Social Capital — Its Development and Use 78
Chapter VII. The Community Center as an Aid to
Chapter VIII. First Steps in the Community Center . 105
Chapter IX. Special School Programs . . . .115
Chapter X. Miscellaneous Activities within the Com-
munity Center 124
Chapter XI. Entertainment Programs for Community
Chapter XII. Country Life Programs . . . .181
THE COMMUNITY CENTER
THE COMMUNITY CENTER AND THE WORLD WAR
1. THE SCHOOL BECOMES A NATIONAL CENTER
America gave to the world the most democratic in-
stitution among civilized people — the public school.
So thoroughly has this institution been established in this
country that rarely can a family be found that is not within
reach of a free public school. Yet it required a world war
to impress the American people and the American Govern-
ment with the strategic value of this public institution as
a means of reaching all the people in matters of common
concern. During the several months that America was
engaged in the recent war against the Germans, we were
told that this or that branch of the federal service would
win the war. Mr. Herbert Hoover told us that food would
win the war. Others told us that men and guns would
win the war. We might have followed the example by
asserting that the schools would win the war. Anyway,
the war has been won by the friends of liberty and freedom,
and we know that the schools, by serving as an active
means of communication between the Government and the
people, had a large part in achieving a victory for civiliza-
tion. We know, for example, that if food did win the war,
it did so largely because the school teacher and the school
2 \ '< ' : c^ c . < ^^^ 6btnmunity Center
children — the school — enabled the Food Administration
to direct its messages to the people.
In her article, "Getting Together/ '^ Miss Margaret
Woodrow Wilson has indicated how difficult it was at first
for the National Government to reach the people of our
country with its plans for carrying on its part in the World
War : '' Hitherto the Government has used the newspapers,
the magazines, trade publications, public highways, wom-
en's clubs, churches, patriotic bodies, fraternal and com-
mercial organizations — in short, every conceivable channel
to which it can gain entrance for the word it wishes to spread
and which promises some assistance. The result is that
some of the people are reached in a dozen different ways,
even to the creation of cross-currents and a divided alle-
giance, while others are not reached at all. . . .
"The difficulty of the organizations through which the
Government has tried to reach the people is that none
of them offers a means of reaching all the people. But
there is one institution in America, and only one, which
reaches out to all the people, to all ages, sexes, and races
at one time or another, and that is the public school.''
Every School a National Center. "More and more,"
says Dr. Finley,^ "are we coming to think of the school
as the community or neighborhood center. And more
and more are we in the schools coming, I think, to regard
our work as a volunteer service to the state rather than
a means of livelihood. But now our schools become
suddenly recognized, under the message of our School-
master President and under the appeals of our nation's
needs, both to teachers and pupils, as national centers —
centers through which these national needs may come to
* Ladies* Home Journal, December, 1917
» Educational Foundations, November, 1917
The Community Center and the World War 3
the knowledge of all the people, centers from and through
which patriotic sentiment will express itself and patriotic
service will give itself."
At the midyear convention of the National Education
Association, which met at Atlantic City, February 25-
March 2, 1918, the program was given almost wholly
to discussions of the public school as a national institution.
We in America are beginning at last to think of the school
not solely as a community asset but also as a national
asset of supreme importance. Perhaps the most hopeful
phase of this awakening is the disposition of our leading
educators to regard the rural school, however small, as
being of equal importance with the larger school units
in matters of national welfare.
Congress Contemplates Federal Aid. The Congress
of the United States has had under consideration the
proposition of providing federal aid to rural schools, in
recognition of their value as a means of training efficient,
loyal citizens of the Republic. The fact that such a
large number of the men drafted into the army service
were illiterate has done as much as any other one thing,
perhaps, in causing the National Government more fully
to realize the potential value of the school as an asset
to national well-being.
A Letter from President Wilson. President Wilson has
been among the first to appreciate the new opportunities
of the school as revealed to us by the necessities of war.
On August 23, 1917, he addressed to school officials the
following letter :
The war is bringing to the minds of our people a new appreciation
of the problems of national life and a deeper understanding of the
meaning and aims of democracy. Matters which heretofore have
seemed commonplace and trivial are seen in a truer light. The
4 The Community Center
urgent demand for the production and proper distribution of food
and other national resources has made us aware of the close depend-
ence of individual on individual and nation on nation. The effort to
keep up social and industrial organizations in spite of the withdrawal
of men for the army has revealed the extent to which modern life
has become complex and specialized.
These and other lessons of the war must be learned quickly if we
are intelligently and successfully to defend our institutions. When
the war is over, we must apply the wisdom which we have acquired in
purging and ennobling the life of the world.
In these vital tasks of acquiring a broader view of human possi-
bilities, the common school must have a large part. I urge that
teachers and other school officers increase materially the time and
attention devoted to instruction bearing directly on the problems of
community and national life.
Such a plea is in no way foreign to the spirit of American public
education or of existing practices. Nor is it a plea for a temporary
enlargement of the school program appropriate merely to the period
of the war. It is a plea for a realization in public education of the
new emphasis which the war has given to the ideals of democracy
and to the broader conceptions of national life.
In order that there may be definite material at hand with which
the schools may at once expand their teaching, I have asked Mr.
Hoover and Commissioner Claxton to organize the proper agencies
for the preparation and distribution of suitable lessons for the ele-
mentary grades and for the high school classes. Lessons thus sug-
gested will serve the double purpose of illustrating in a concrete
way what can be undertaken in the schools, and of stimulating
teachers in all parts of the country to formulate new and appropriate
materials drawn directly from the communities in which they live.
Lessons in Community and National Life. Following
these suggestions of President Wilson, Mr. Hoover and
Commissioner Claxton arranged for the publication, by
the United States Bureau of Education, of Lessons in
Community and National Ldfe, prepared by experts under
the direction of Dr. Charles H. Judd and Dean Leon
C. Mar^hall^ of the University of Chicago. In the in-
The Community Center and the World War 5
troduction to the series of volumes Director Judd states
the purpose of the Lessons in Community and National
Life to be :
(1) To lay the foundations for an intelligent enthusiasm for the
(2) To bring industry into the schools in a way which will appeal
to the intelligence of pupils and will intellectualize all later con-
tact with practical affairs.
(3) To create a sense of personal responsibility, which can re-
sult only when the pupil is shown how life is interdependent with
the life of other members of society.
Lessons for Adults. As this book proceeds, it will
be apparent how this project for "a realization in public
education of the new emphasis which the war has given
to the ideals of democracy and to the broader conceptions
of national life," is related to the aim of the community
center. What these lessons aim to teach the children
in the schools, the community center aims to teach all
the people as they assemble at their schoolhouses. This
partially compensates those of a previous generation for
the loss they sustained by the shortcomings of the schools
of their day.
Other Nations and the Community Center. Due
doubtless to her once highly centralized form of govern-
ment, Germany was perhaps the first to recognize the
significance of the public school as a national and com-
munity center. In the days 'of her prosperity, every
teacher in Germany was a trained specialist in the direct
employ of the state. He was the recognized leader of
his community. Through him the government carried
out its plans of making every family a national asset/
Through this local leader the people were instructed,
directed, and informed by the German government.
6 The Community Center
The school, in other words, was the means the govern-
ment used for its contact with the people. And, al-
though the German government made the school, as
everything else, an instrument of the state, yet the
efficiency with which the plan was executed emphasizes
all the more the efficacy of the school as a commimity
center for the strengthening of national ideals.
Of the democratic nations, France saw first, and per-
"haps more clearly than other nations, the powerful aid
of the school in keeping up the morale of the people during
the darkest days of her recent struggle. Every week, in
all the schoolhouses of France, men and women and
youths assembled at evening to listen to the reading of
the " Bulletin," a printed statement containing news
from the bureaus in Paris about the conduct and the
progress of the war. It would be hard to overestimate
the influence which this coming together had upon the
fortunes and the successes of the armies of France.
Experience of the United States Government. For-
tunately, very soon after the United States entered the
war, our Government saw not only the possibilities of
the school in communicating its calls for service to the
people, but also, as Miss Wilson states, the absolute
necessity of the school in carrying out the Government's
programs of waging war against Germany and her allies.
The results of the Food Pledge Card Campaign, which
was carried to success largely through the medium of the
schools by the teachers and pupils, and by public gather-
ings of the people at the schoolhouses, led the Govern-
ment to resort to the same means for carrying on the
•Liberty Loan drives, the Red Cross drives, the sale of
war savings stamps, etc. Many thousands of people
were informed about, and became interested in, these
The Community Center and the World War 7
several enterprises of the Federal Government, who
possibly could not have been reached in any other way.
The success of all of these campaigns has demonstrated
beyond question that the school is the surest, cheapest, ^
and speediest means the Government had of reaching all
the people, and of securing their cooperation in prosecut-
ing its program of helping to make the world safe for
This is true : (1) because some of our citizens either
cannot, or do not, read newspapers, magazines, etc. ;
(2) because some who do read these fail to grasp from
printed matter the significance and the gravity of the
messages or appeals contained therein, while a teacher
may make all such matters reasonably plain and im-
pressive by verbal explanations to assembled groups of
citizens ; (3) because a number of our citizens are not ac-
customed to attend public gatherings where information
of this sort may be given out, whereas their children may
carry home from the school both their own interpretation
of the situation, and bulletins, circulars, etc., which
otherwise would not reach the people; and (4) because
the cooperative action of people assembled is much more
effective than individual action.
Given a wide-awake teacher in every community, who
is at the same time even a fairly competent leader, and
let such teacher have effective contact with state and
national leaders, the Federal Government is in position
to call forth the full strength and resources of the people.
The school, in other words, is the most effective means
a democracy has of mobilizing the thought, the energy,
and the full strength of the nation.
8 The Community Center
2. AN ANCIENT PRINCIPLE OF DEMOCRACY AND
The use of the public school as a means for the self-
expression of a people is a modern practice. But the
principle involved in such practice is as old as democracy
itself. Professor Charles Zueblin ^ says : " The organiza-
tion of people for self-expression dates back to primitive
times. Public discussions were familiar in the little
democracies of Greece and subsequently in Rome. The
German Mark and Swiss Commune furnished the best
example of freedom of public discussion and public
actions. The oldest democratic organization now exist-
ing, and historically the most important, is the Landes
Gemeinde of Switzerland. From the thirteenth century
the male citizens of several Swiss cantons have assembled
from their mountain homes for the conduct of public
affairs by the living voice in the open air." Professor
Zueblin says further : " The larger use of the school-
house and the organization of social centers are not
novelties. They are the twentieth-century revival and
expression of that democratic spirit which has been vital
at intervals for more than two thousand years/'
Dr. Samuel M. Crothers ^ voices the same sentiment
when he says : " The present movement for using the
schoolhouse of a city for the promotion of neighborhood
life is one that has a long history — as long as democracy.
It is the attempt to adapt ancient usages to modem
conditions. The sense of social solidarity which gives
rich and deep meaning to the word ' neighbor * is in
danger of being lost. The neighbor is the ' nigh dweller/
^ Historical Antecedents of the Modern Social Center
' The American Historic Antecedents of the Modem Social Center
The Community Center and the World War 9
but what signifies this if the door of his dwelling be shut?
The house with its locks and bars becomes the symbol
of exclusive individualism. . . . Those who are opening
our schoolhouses for the largest public services are simply
carrying on the traditions of freedom.''
3. THE MODERN COMMUNITY CENTER
The ancient custom which the people of the Swiss
cantons had of coming together in the open air and
deciding, by the " living voice/^ the nature of their com-
munity affairs was followed by our early New England
communities, particularly in school affairs. These New
Englanders came together for a definite purpose — to
employ a teacher, to fix his salary, to determine the length
of the school term, and to fix the amount of school revenues
to be raised.
Are the Good Old Days Gone Not to Return ? For a
period of years covering most of the nineteenth century
rural people were accustomed to assemble frequently,
usually at their schoolhouses, for the purpose of entertain-
ment and social enjoyment. Those were the days of the
" spelling bee," the " school literaries," and " debating
societies." During the same period the people frequently
assembled at one another's homes for " corn-huskings,"
" barn-raisings," " log-rollings," " threshings," " apple-
cuttings," " bean stringings," etc. For the most part
these occasions were for mutual help, doing collectively
what the farmers or their wives and daughters were unable
to do unaided ; while, on the other hand, many of these
occasions, such as " apple-cuttings " and the like, were
merely excuses for both young and old to get together
for a good " sociable " time. Gradually these customs
10 The Community Center
became almost wholly abandoned, the people becoming
less and less neighborly. Community social life gave
way to family isolation and community stagnation. And
it is a question whether this loss of rural social customs is
not to some extent responsible for the exodus of rural
populations to the cities which has been taking place for
the past quarter of a century. May we not hope for a
revival of those old-time social customs?
The Reviving Spirit of the Community Center. We
are reminded, therefore, that the example of the com-
munity center is as old as the idea of democracy and
freedom itself ; that the community center idea has been
a prominent factor in the development of our democratic
institutions in America; and that, when we came to a
crisis in our national existence and in the very existence
of democracy itself, the schools suddenly mobilized them-
selves as among the most powerful agencies the National
Government had for prosecuting its part in the World
Revival Had Already Begtin. ^ut before the national
significance of the community center became evident to
our state and national leaders, there had been for several
years a notable revival of the community center as an
agency of community betterment. At first this move-
ment was confined mainly to the cities, taking various
forms as community centers, recreation centers, parent-
teacher associations, civic leagues, etc. New York City
now has more than one hundred and fifty community
Within the past decade, however, rural districts also
have witnessed a marked revival in community center
activities. State departments of education and state col-
leges of agriculture had issued bulletins urging teachers
The Community Center and the World War 11
to organize their communities into social and civic centers.
A great many leaders of rural life betterment had stressed
the importance and the social and moral significance of
such activities. A large number of rural communities,
under the leadership of the minister, the teacher, or
some public-spirited citizen, had achieved marked success
along many lines of rural life betterment. These successes
demonstrated to many the great possibilities of the school
as a means of improving country life and its institutions,
and also the fact that the school as a community center
is one of the best means we have of reaching all the people
and of helping them to work out their mutual welfare.
4. OUTLOOK FOR THE COMMUNITY CENTER
The World War is at an end, with the triumph of
democracy and civilization. Shall we not profit by our
experiences with the school as a center for the promotion
of national activities during the period of the war? What
lessons has our experience taught us? If our schools
have helped to win the war, may they not likewise help
us to be a better and more efficient people in time of
peace? If our schools have helped to raise funds for
the Red Cross, to bind up the wounds of our stricken
soldiers in time of war, may they not help the nation in
health campaigns designed to keep our people well and
strong in time of peace ? — to keep them efficient pro-
ducers and happy citizens? If the school helped the
Government to raise billions by the sale of liberty bonds
and war savings stamps, may we not depend upon it
to raise thousands when we come to vote peace bonds for
the erection of school buildings, for building public high-
ways, or for any other worthy community purpose?
12 The Community Center
During the period of national danger we have all been
on tiptoes, so to speak. Shall we relax, now that peace
has come, and sink back into the easy-going habits of
pre-war times? If we do so, we shall not have profited
much by our bitter experiences in this world struggle.
We shall hardly be deserving of the victory v/on.
Unlimited Possibilities. — The response of the schools
to the nation's needs in war and the extraordinary results
achieved demonstrated the fact that with capable leader-
ship there are tremendous possibilities in the community
center for almost any worthy project of community im-
provement, whether by community we mean the nation,
the state, or the municipality. For when a meritorious
proposition is put before a group of Americans in such a
way that they may discuss and understand it, nine out
of ten will favor it. The great trouble heretofore has
been, as already stated, that, with certain notable excep-
tions, we have had no way of reaching all the people with
our proposals for community improvement, and, merely
because they have not understood what was to be gained,
many citizens have too often stood squarely against com-
Virginia's Example. The state of Virginia will serve
as an example of what organized communities may ac-
complish. For several years, through the agency of the
Cooperative Education Association, a considerable group
of educational leaders of Virginia have been organizing
school improvement leagues. In the fall of 1917, when
the National Food Administration appealed to the schools
of the nation to aid in the Food Pledge Card Campaign,
Virginia had 1062 active leagues with a total membership
of 34,885. The name and post-office address of the leader
of each league was on file with the executive secretary of
The Community Center and the World War 13
the association. Upon receiving this call to service, the
executive secretary had merely to address a circular letter,
together with such printed matter, circular letters, etc.,
as were available, to the several local leaders, calling upon
all to assemble the members of their respective leagues
at the schoolhouses for the purpose of carrying out their
part in this campaign. Without a single exception,
these leagues promptly came together at their school-
houses and performed their part in the Food Pledge Card
Within ten days the pledge cards were in the hands of
the executive secretary of the association, who promptly
forwarded them to the Food Administration in Washing-
ton. Such remarkable efficiency led the Food Adminis-
trator to call the executive secretary to Washington to
explain how the work was so well and so speedily accom-
plished. Following this conference, the Food Adminis-
tration undertook to enlist the cooperation of all such
community organizations throughout the country. These
school improvement leagues in Virginia proved to be
equally efficient in every other government enterprise
which appealed to the people for assistance in carrying
out our war programs.
The activities of the Virginia school improvement
leagues just enumerated were, to be sure, directed towards
meeting a national emergency. But, meanwhile, their
work of local community improvements went forward
almost as in times of peace. The Annual Report of the
Commission enumerates local activities in the year 1917
as follows :
A special Good Roads Meeting was held by 184 leagues, and in
almost every instance something was done to improve the neighbor-
hood road ; 214 held a Better Farm and Garden Meeting before the
14 The Community Center
first of May, and our supplemental report indicates that practically
every reporting league has held one or more farm improvement meet-
ings since then. May or Community Day was observed by 191,
and 113 found time for Better Church Day, when the needs of the
churches of the community were studied and many improvements
made. This record indicates that a total of 1363 special meetings
were held during the year, in addition to the special war service
With an efficient organization such as the Virginia
School Improvement League, what could not a state
accomplish through legislation, publicity, health cam-
paigns, etc.? What could not a county accomplish in
the way of building good roads and better schools, purify-
ing politics, etc. ? And what could not the local neighbor-
hood accomplish in social, moral, educational, and economic
Every School a Community Center. But since we
entered into the World War, our experiences in carrying
forward the Government's programs have taught us
that a formal organization of the community is not really
necessary; that the school itself is, or can be made, all
the organization that we need to secure community
cooperation for almost any worthy project. It is a great
lesson that we have leaped, and let us not forget it, now
that peace has come. It means that within reasonable
reach of every home we have a public hall, the school-
house, where the people may come together for enter-
tainments, discussions, social enjoyment, or for any pur-
pose, in fact, which concerns the people. It means that
without additional expense we have a paid leader, the
teacher, whose duty it becomes to coordinate all the forces
of the community in worthy efforts for local improve-
ments. So we have all the facilities at hand for carrying
out any necessary program for community improvements.
The Community Center and the World War 15
We may affirm, therefore, that to-day we have either
active or latent as many community centers as we have
It is true that not all the states have statutes allowing
the public school building to be used for community meet-
ings. But it is reasonable to expect that with the efforts
now being brought to bear upon state legislatures to
grant the people the use of their own property, laws
will soon be enacted to this end. It ought not to be
necessary, indeed, to have laws granting the people what
is so clearly their inherent right.
Leadership Is of First Importance. In a great many
communities a lot of preliminary work will be necessary
before the community center will begin to bear its best
fruits. The whole problem hinges upon the quality of
leadership which our teachers possess. Without capable
leadership very little can be done. But take the country
over, and it will be found that most of the teachers of
America have the willingness and the capacity to under-
take such work if only they can be shown how. It is the
chief purpose of this book to detail some experiences of
successful leaders, and to offer some suggestions as to the
nature and procedure of community center work.
1. State what your school as a national community center did
in war activities.
2. Select a community that you have known and make a list of
all the activities in which the school might engage for the general
improvement of that community in peace times.
3. For the same community make out a program for community
progress by arranging in the order of their importance the things
that should be done, the program to cover a period of from three to
16 The Community Center
4. Indicate the activity that should be undertaken first in carry-
ing out this program and outline in detail the method of procedure
that you would follow.
5. What effects would you expect the carrying on of that activity
to have on your working out of the general program under exercise 3 ?
6. Make a brief survey of the agencies or organizations in your
community, the general purposes of which are in harmony with the
general purposes of the community center, and, with the leaders of
these organizations, devise plans for cooperation in a general program
of community activities.
7. From conversations with the older citizens or in other ways,
find out and list the principal community activities engaged in by the
people within the past fifty years. (Preserve this list for reference
when you come to make up the first few programs of the community
8. Interpret the experiences of the National Government in its
several war drives in terms of definite suggestions for community
center work in your community.
LEADERSHIP AND THE COMMUNITY CENTER
1. THE NECESSITY FOR LEADERSHIP
In any kind of activity where groups of individuals
work or act or play together, personal leadership is found
to be the most important factor in the achievements
attained. Indeed, without such leadership the phrase
" group activities " is meaningless. In the average
rural community where families are more or less isolated,
and where in the past there have been comparatively
few occasions calling for leadership, the present need of
capable leaders is very much greater than in the cities
and other thickly populated communities where a con-
siderable number of the people have long been accustomed
to work together for mutual welfare. Yet, in those rural
communities where the people are apparently oblivious
to the present need of concerted action in community
improvements, there are usually a few citizens who stand
out as recognized leaders of their groups. Such leader-
ship may be wholly unconscious even on the part of the
Past experiences, as recorded in history and in literature
dealing with social movements, as well as common observa-
tion, justify the conclusion that most people look to leaders
for direction of their thought and action, while only a few
of any group offer themselves as leaders or wish to assume
the responsibilities which leadership exacts. And if the
right kind of leaders are not found, then the wrong kind
18 The Community Center
may assert themselves, with the result that the people
are led in the wrong direction. If that be the ease, we
might rightly infer that the present wave of Bolshevism
that has gained many adherents may possibly be due to
a preponderance of wrong leaders, or, what is more likely,
to the inactivity of the right kind of leaders.
2. PRESENT STATUS OF RURAL LEADERSHIP
Meaning of Leadership. To begin with, we should
inquire into the meaning of leadership. In the first
place, the leader must know the people whom he would
lead. The successful politician understands this fact
very clearly. He is always anxious to impress it upon
the people that he is one of their own number and that he
understands their every need. In that practice he is
merely recognizing one of the most fundamental facts
of successful leadership. It is a fact which" the rural
leader also will do well to recognize. He will need to be
or to become a real member of the group. The more
nearly he does understand the people and does see their
points of view and sense their feelings and aspirations,
the greater success he is likely to achieve. At the same
time he must be able by example and suggestion to lead
the people to better ways, to greater aspirations, and,
finally and thereby, to greater enjoyment and apprecia-
tion in their everyday lives. He cannot tell the people
what to do, yet he will be able to lead them into such
personal relations with one another and into such con-
tact with their physical, social, and moral surroundings
that they will, in consequence of their own efforts, ap-
proach more nearly than at present the best that their
Leadership and the Community Center 19
Secondly, the leader cannot direct a group of persons
unless they are engaged in doing something. What they
do matters not so much if only it be of common interest
to the whole group. That fact will be considered at greater
length in the next chapter. For the present, let us consider
briefly some of the things that have been and are being
done by rural leaders, and then turn to a consideration
of the chief agencies now available for rural leadership.
Leaders of National Importance. We have probably
not yet had in this country a single great leader in rural
life activities, such as Sir Horace Plunkett in Ireland
or Bishop Grundwig in Denmark. Relatively large
groups of men and women of national prominence have
contributed much towards the solution of the various
phases of the rural life problem by means of investiga-
tion, publication, and public addresses, but chiefly through
the institutions or agencies with which they are associated.
Owing to the economic feature of its work and to the
fact that it has the official and financial backing of the
whole country, the United States Department of Agri-
culture is doubtless the most powerful single force working
to-day for the solution of the rural life problem. The
United States Bureau of Education, under the direction of its
present commissioner, is rendering distinguished service,
particularly by disseminating knowledge of the facts
about the rural situation. Various private agencies of
national significance are contributing towards the same
purpose by investigations, publications, and, not infre-
quently, by financial assistance to worthy projects.
State Leadership. The state college of agriculture
has become a powerful agency for rural leadership in
nearly every state in the Union. Through its excep-
tional opportunities for training local leaders, both by
20 The Community Center
its instruction in the institution and in developing leaders
in the local communities, the state college of agriculture
is achieving notable results in improving almost every
phase of rural life conditions. The state department
of education in some states has assumed active leader-
ship in certain phases of the rural life movement in addition
to its special work of improving the schools, and in almost
every case it cooperates with the other state agencies in
the general program of rural life improvement. The
state board of health and the state road commission
are other agencies of the state working directly towards
the improvement of country life.
Local Leadership. Finally, returning to the work of
the local communities, where most of the actual leading
must be done, we may note as of first importance the
county superintendent of schools, and, next to him, the
county agricultural agent. These two county leaders
help one another in carrying out the county program of
rural life improvements. In the district (township), also,
we now find in many instances a school supervisor or a
district superintendent and in some cases an agricultural
agent or leader. In the local communities we have the
teacher, the minister, and other leaders cooperating with
these appointed leaders. We shall consider the oppor-
tunities and the activities of all of these several kinds of
leadership in the following paragraphs of this chapter.
3. AGENCIES FOR RURAL LEADERSHIP
1. The Rural Home. First in importance among the
agencies for rural leadership is the home. Theodore
Roosevelt once said : "In the development of character,
the home should be more important than the school or
Leadership and the Community Center 21
than society at large." It is in the country, we believe,
that we find the simplest home life. In the country home
all the members are still accustomed to assemble at meal
hours around the family board and in the evening around
the fireside. Their work is for the benefit of all; there
are fewer distractions, and it is generally believed fewer
temptations to evil, than are to be found surrounding
the urban home. Let the members of a convenient group
of these homes come together with a common interest,
whether for amusement, for athletic contests, or for
cooperative helpfulness, with a leader among them, and
we have all the conditions which are necessary for a live
community center. On the other hand, let the home
disintegrate, and then not only would all possibility of
community cooperation disappear, but society itself
would fall to pieces.
Is the Rural Home Improving or Degenerating?
Whether the rural home is maintaining its former prestige
is just now a debatable question. There is a general
impression that the country is the best place in the world
to live and to bring up a family of clean, honest, healthy
children. Under the most favorable conditions, that
impression is doubtless correct. Just to what extent
rural life conditions may be improving or deteriorating
no one knows. If greater intelligence results in better
living, and we believe it does, then it must be admitted
that country life is improving; for we may reasonably
assume that with the improvement of the teaching and
of the physical conditions of the rural schools, both of
which are evident, the general level of rural life is being
elevated. The physical conditions in and about the
average country home have undoubtedly been greatly
improved within the past decade. And, although the
22 The Community Center
Federal Government has reported that the physical health
of country youth strikes a somewhat lower level than
that of city children, the comparison is not so significant
as it might appear upon the surface. For example, the
city child has better opportunities to consult a physician
or a dentist or an oculist than the country child has, and
that alone may account for some of the reported differ-
ences in physical welfare.
Whether the moral tone of country folk is hi
lower than that of city folk or of the country p. ^
the last generation, is also a question which cani^ot be-
answered and which might not be of great consequence
in any event. The most important thing for the rural
life leader to know is what he can do to help the people
with whom he comes in contact to improve the present
If a sufficiently large number of rural life leaders
were so distributed throughout the country that every
family in the land could come under the influence of
one such leader, the rural life problem would be in a
fair way of solving itself. Potentially, we have the re-
quired number of such leaders and they are so distributed.
Reference is made, of course, to the rural teachers of this,
country. The rural teachers can, in the schoolroom and
in the community center, put new life into their respective
communities; they can stimulate the members of these
communities to new aspirations; they. can do much to^
restore self-confidence in the parents wherever, .^^elf^^
confidence may be lacking; and they can help to keep;
the youth satisfied with country life. To maintain the
integrity, the unity, the aliveness, and the permanency
of the country home may be said to constitute the foiinda-
tion work of the community center.
Leadership and the Community Center 23
2. The Rural Church. Next to the home the church
is of greatest importance as an agency for rural leadership.
The rural church has doubtless lost many opportunities
for such leadership. Such rural surveys as have been
made are almost unanimous in the conclusion that the
rural church is to-day losing ground. Dr. Warren H.
Wii«or of the Department of Church and Country Life
^Presbyterian Board of Home Missions has made a
^^of rural life surveys, the published reports of
vJli*i!J%int a rather dark picture. A survey of forty-
four niinois communities, averaging fifty-four square
miles each, showed that " in the whole territory surveyed
forty-seven churches have died, of which twenty-nine
were country churches.^' While emphasizing the decline
of country churches, we find, however, no special com-
ment in this report on the fact that the other eighteen
churches, or 38.3 per cent, were, probably, city churches.
Dr. Wilson's report of a similar survey in Missouri
states the following : " The appearance of an abandoned
church is usually that of the abomination of desolation —
windows broken, organ broken, pulpit broken, seats in
confusion, a bird's nest or two up near the roof, and in
some corner a tramp's bed made out of the folded carpet.
It is safe to say that many other churches are on the road
to abandonment, for less than half of these country
churches of these three counties are increasing in member-
ship." The foregoing description is doubtless true to
-ae lacts revealed in the survey in question. It is only
fair to state, however, that according to the last United
States Census the population in many rural communi-
ties is decreasing because of the constant migration of
country folk to the towns and cities. That being the
case, the failure of the rural churches to increase their
24 The Community Center
memberships would seem to be a natural consequence of
such loss of persons available for church membership.
Loss of Leaders and of Wealth. There can be no
doubt that in the past two or three decades the rural
population of this country has been undergoing a great
transformation. Many of the strongest leaders of the
country have gone to the cities and they have taken with
them much of the wealth of the country. As a general
proposition, it may be stated that it is the more ambitious
and capable youths and the more prosperous and pro-
gressive adults who are most likely to go to the city.
The wide-awake young man, even without capital, has a
fair chance of establishing himself there. But when a
family goes to the city it must have sufficient capital with
which to establish a business and a home, or else be sat-
isfied with eking out a scant existence on the income of
its members. Therefore, the general tendency is towards
a constant increasing of the population and wealth of
the cities at the expense of the rural communities. To
such economic conditions, far more than to any general
slackening of the moral and religious consciousness, is
due, we venture to state, the decadence of the rural church.
For when a community has lost its more capable youths
and its more prosperous citizens, it is no longer the same
community. Something resembling a chemical change
has taken place in its composition. Certain readjust-
ments must inevitably be made in order that it may pursue
its life under changed and changing conditions. For that
reason it is necessary for rural leaders to study carefully
the new organism in order to determine what readjust-
ments shall be made in its economic outlook and in its
moral, religious, and social life, to make it once more a
normal unit of society.
Leadership and the Community Center 25
One of the strongest incentives prompting rural folk to
migrate to the cities is discontent with the country. That
is not true of the well-to-do families who are able by
employing labor to avoid the drudgery of farm life and
who can go to the city by automobile in an hour or less for
shopping, entertainment, and worship. But it is very true
of families who have to do their own work and who have
very little opportunity to get away from their daily chores
even for an occasional mingling with friends or for enter-
tainment of any kind. That is particularly true in regard
to the mother and the children after the latter reach the
age of twelve to fifteen. Such discontent springs partly
from the connections which have been established between
former members of the community who have already
gone to the city, and their friends and relatives in the
country. Those who remain on the farm occasionally
visit their old-time friends in the city; they receive
letters from them which tell of the advantages of city
life; they read the city newspapers, and in such ways
they allow their imaginations to draw very sharp con-
trasts between the city and the country, usually to the
disadvantage of the latter. As a consequence, they are
likely to lose interest in the school, in the church, and in
farm life in general. They come to feel that they are
missing their opportunities, that they are being left
behind in the pursuit of pleasure and happiness. Nat-
urally they, too, long to get away from the farm to the
city, where they fancy they will be better situated.
On the surface it might appear that the rural ministry
is largely responsible for the decadence of the rural church.
But the present condition of the rural church, and of
country life in general, is fundamentally due to such
situations as have just been described. If we could
26 The Community Center
extract from American life of past and present times the
net results of the work of its rural ministry, we should
then be better able to estimate the magnificent achieve-
ments of the country minister. For through those men
and women who have left the country to make their
homes in the city the rural minister has contributed as
much to the welfare of the city, perhaps, as to the welfare
of those who have remained with him in the country.
And we have reason to believe that the rural minister
of to-day is as zealous for the welfare of his people as he
has ever been in the past. ,
The Church as a Community Center. /As with the
school, so with the church, much depends upon the quality
of the leadership that is offered. A great many rural
ministers have assumed leadership in their communities,
and their achievements are worthy examples of what
may be done by the church as a community center. The
greatest obstacle in the way of such leadership is, of
course, sectarianism, especially in communities where
several different church denominations are represented.
There have been many happy instances, however, where
all the ministers and their congregations were able to
put aside their denominational feelings temporarily and
to unite in community social and recreational activities^
We believe that as time goes on there will tend to be more
and more of such unity for the general good and that
thereby the people of such communities will be greatly
benefited. Farmers' clubs, women's clubs, boys' and
girls' organizations of various kinds, literary societies,
and many other agencies for community improvement
may be centered in the church as successfully, perhaps,
as in the school. The war- work campaigns have done
much to poiut out to the ministers and to the people
Leadership and the Community Center 27
generally the great opportunities that lie in the united
effort of all the people, and we may be assured that many
rural ministers will be quick to see the significance of
such lessons and to turn them to practical purposes in
time of peace.
3. School Extension Work. The extension service of
a large number of colleges, universities, and normal schools
throughout the United States, particularly that of the
state colleges of agriculture, is perhaps the most effective
and the most far-reaching work that is being done at the
present time towards the reorganization and rejuvenation
of rural life forces. In this work, fortunately, we have the
aid of the Federal Government. We now have the state
farm manager in charge of the several county agricultural
agents, the state organizers of boys' and girls' agricultural
clubs, the state agent in charge of each of the general
divisions of the farming business. In addition to their
particular work in improving agriculture, these men
and women seek to help in every possible way to better
country life conditions. Furthermore, the colleges of
agriculture are doing a notable service by training a large
number of local, county, and state leaders for carrying
on community activities among rural populations.
Economic Considerations. But perhaps the chief
significance of their work in its final results lies in the
fact that these institutions are dealing primarily with
the economic phases of rural life problems. It takes
money to support a church, money to build roads, money,
and lots of it, to establish and maintain an efficient public
school system. Farmers must make money if they would
have it to spend for public institutions. They must have
something left after paying their taxes, if they would feel
like spending more upon their schools, more towards the
28 The Community Center
support of the churches, more towards the improvement
of public highways. Let a farmer have enough left to
enable him to put something by for a rainy day, to own
an automobile, and to spend a reasonable amount for
the personal pleasure of himself and his family, and then
living in the country will not so greatly disturb his family's
peace of mind. For it is claimed by some students of
rural life conditions that boys and girls are sometimes
attracted to the city more by their desire to have more
money for personal conveniences than by their mere
desire to live in the qity. To this end the extension
divisions of the colleges, universities, and normal schools
are contributing most effectively to the solution of country-
life problems. Their work furnishes a fine example both
of the need and of the effectiveness of capable, trained,
earnest rural life leaders. The activities of these leaders
are carried on through what we conceive to be community
centers, — the people acting together in matters of com-
mon interest to all.
4. The Rural School. In this chapter we have thus
far tried to point out the necessity of leadership as an
element of progress in rural life betterment, and to indi-
cate the possibilities of the home, the church, and the
extension service of colleges, universities, and other
institutions as agencies for rural leadership. Next in
order, but certainly not least in importance, is the rural
school as an agency for rural leadership.
The Strategic Position of the School for Rural Leader-
ship. Of the four agencies, namely, the home, the church,
the extension service, and the school, the school occupies
distinctly the most advantageous position as an immediate
active agency for rural leadership. The home is an agency
of rural life progress only, of course, in its peculiar relation
Leadership and the Community Center 29
to the other three agencies mentioned; the church will
be handicapped more or less in many places as an agency
for community leadership because of its sectarian nature ;
while the extension service of the several educational
institutions mentioned is more or less dependent upon
the rural school as the agency of its activities. (The
school has the advantage (1) of being free from partisan
and sectarian influences, (2) of being a public institution,
(3) of being within reach of all the people, and (4) of
having the teacher as a paid pubUc officer, from whom
the people may well expect a reasonable service in addition
to his classroom work. Furthermore, from the very
nature of his position, the teacher has an opportunity for
leadership not possessed to the same degree by any other
person in the community.,
That in many communities the rural school is yet in a
backward condition cannot be denied. Yet at the same
time the potentiality of the rural school as a means of
leadership cannot well be overestimated. This institu-
tion is in the peculiar position of being under the necessity
of reviving and rejuvenating itself while it is at the same
time charged with the duty of rendering a like service
to the community. Yet, it can revive and rejuvenate
itself only by aiding the people themselves to reaUze the
best that country life affords. When the rural school
shall do that for the country people, it will have reached
its highest ideals and its loftiest purposes.
The Teacher as Leader. How, then, may the rural
school accomplish this great purpose and realize its highest
ideals? Mainly through the personal leadership of the
Of course, the teacher's efforts must be supplemented.
Those who write textbooks may have to put into them
30 The Community Center
material better adapted for the use of the teacher in his
attempts to help the pupils find themselves in their
immediate environment. Those who outline courses of
study and daily programs may have to give the teacher
greater freedom in adapting his work to the needs and
the environment of his immediate group of children.
Those who prepare examination or test questions may
have to modify their practices or else turn their attention
to better employment. Boards of education may have
to be more liberal in expending public funds, to supply the
teacher with the necessary equipment for the school.
Our normal schools may have to train teachers less in
theory and superficiality, and more in practical, useful
service. The people will have to provide the teacher a com-
petence commensurate with the service which he renders.
The home, the church, and all other available rural life
forces will have to cooperate with him in every possible
way. But the teacher himself may have to get a truer
and larger vision of his work than he now has; he will
n^ed always to have a proper perspective of country life ;
he will have to possess the genuine spirit of teaching and
of social service. First, however, he must be a leader in
his community, in order that he may be all things else to
the school and to the people whom he serves.
The Secret of Leadership. What is the secret of a
teacher's successful leadership? First to be mentioned
are his personal qualities, — power of initiative, courage,
adaptability, good judgment of situations, and industry.
In the second place, the country teacher must understand
country people. He must know their thoughts, their
feelings, their peculiarities, their prejudices, as well as
their needs. Above all things else he must have a lot of
good common sense about dealing with people. Thus
Leadership and the Community Center 31
equipped, the teacher may be assured of the confidence
and the good will of the community. Then he will be
able to lead them to see their own situations somewhat as
he sees them. Seeing their situations in the true light,
the people will be willing to follow the leadership of the
teacher in accomplishing what they mutually desire.
An understanding of the people and an ability to lead
them to see their true situations are the two dominant
qualities which have characterized every really great
leader. These two qualities are of peculiar importance
in the problem of rural life leadership. Whatever im-
provements in economic, social, and moral conditions
may be made, must be made by the country people them-
selves; and such improvements must come chiefly out
of their own resources. Leadership can help them only
in so far as it helps them to find themselves in their en-
vironment and then to devise means of improving their
situations. If the teacher, or other leader, can first bring
a group of people into a proper relation with their true
situations, a mere suggestion may be all that is necessary
to start them on the road to progress. Such suggestion
may be made to come from one of their own number.
An Example of Unconscious Leadership. We are re-
minded of a countryman who several years ago imported
from another state three pure-bred calves, one male and
two females. These were the first pure-bred cattle to
be brought into that community. His neighbors believed
this man to be crazy. They could not understand why
any sensible man would go into another state and pay
twice as much for calves that were no better, so far as
they could see, than could be obtained at home for a
reasonable price. Not until this neighbor had received
from ten to twenty dollars a head more for the offspring
32 The Community Center
of this improved breed of cattle than they received for
their " scrub ^' product, did they allow themselves to
believe that improved live stock pays. But once they
were aroused to a sense of new possibilities in cattle
breeding, and of an added income from their farms, they
readily followed the example of that leader.
Where or how this countryman got the idea of introduc-
ing improved live stock into his community is not known,
for that was before the day of agricultural agents. Doubt-
less his motive was personal gain rather than community
improvement. Be that as it may, the results were the
same. His act brought new life, new aspirations, and
moderate prosperity to a whole community. If we could
find in each community a man who has the vision and
the courage of his convictions to go ahead in any project
for the improvement of his own situation, the rest of the
community would in time be likely to follow his example.
The Strategic Position of the Teacher. As has been
already indicated, the teacher holds a strategic position
as a rural life leader. He may not introduce improved
live stock, improved farm machinery, etc., nor assume
active leadership by example in working out many other
important problems of rural life progress. His ultimate
opportunity lies rather in his ability to find in his com-
munity the men and the women whom he may encourage
to assume active leadership in every department of rural
life improvement. In other words, the teacher may
lead best by discovering and helping to develop local
leaders among the people themselves.
The teacher's best means of accomplishing this purpose
is the school and the community center. By these means
he may develop " social capital," which may be made
productive of rural life progress of many kinds.
Leadership and the Community Center 33
To assume personal leadership in a rural community,
in the way herein indicated, is not an easy task, to be
sure, yet it has been done time and time again. Perhaps
no two teachers will do identically the same things, nor
in exactly the same ways. But neither do any two
teachers teach exactly the same things in precisely the
same ways. Local conditions must be taken into con-
sideration and the community activities must be adapted
to actual conditions. The teacher must be keen to sense
situations and to meet them in the most agreeable and
Dealing with a Situation. As an illustration, let us
cite the experience of one country teacher who went into
a rural community to teach just an average rural school.
She knew nothing about conditions there, but she had
enough self-confidence to believe that she would be master
of any situation that might arise. Accordingly, she
arrived in the community a few days before the opening
of school. Immediately she went to her schoolhouse to
look the situation over. Then she sent out a call to all
the children and their parents to meet her at the school-
house at one o'clock on Saturday before the Monday
when school would begin. This unusual procedure on
the part of their teacher in itself so attracted the atten-
tion of both children and parents that nearly all were
present at the hour designated for the meeting. This was
their first community center meeting.
After getting acquainted, she began talking informally
with the children and their parents about the condition
of their school grounds, which, as they all could see, were
covered with briers, weeds, and litter of every kind.
Pretty soon one of the fathers said, " Well, let's clean it
up, boys." At this suggestion, they procured a scythe,
34 The Community Center
cut the briers and weeds, and cleared away the rubbish.
Meanwhile, the teacher had gone with the mothers and
the girls into the schoolhouse. There they found the
floors, walls, and windows dirty, and the whole place
looking dingy. Following the example of the men and
boys outside, they set about overhauling and thoroughly
cleaning the interior of the building.
By the time the schoolhouse and grounds had been
put in order, there came up a hard rain which drove
everybody into the schoolhouse. To the surprise of
every one, except the children, the roof let in the rain in
many places. Being equal to the occasion, the teacher
addressed the assembly in some such words as these :
" Friends, our school begins Monday and we are likely
to have a lot of showers before the winter is over. Do
you think it would be safe for these children to be ex-
posed to weather like this when it gets cold? They
would certainly be sick much of the time. Don't you
think that something ought to be done to improve this
This was a plain statement with a suggestion. No
argument was necessary. After some discussion, it was
decided at the teacher's suggestion that a committee be
appointed to wait upon the board of education with the
request that the roof be mended. The board informed
this committee that all the funds had been appropriated
for that year, but that by another year the repairs could
be made. The committee made its report at a community
meeting on the following Friday night. When the report
had been submitted, the teacher asked what should be
done. No one seemed to know. " Fll tell you," said
the teacher, " if you think it would be best, we could get
up an entertainment by the children and perhaps raise
Leadership and the Community Center 35
enough money to buy the shingles and nails." " If you'll
do that," broke in a member of the committee, " we'll put
'em on." All were agreed upon this plan. The enter-
tainment was successful, and a brand new roof was put
on the schoolhouse.
One Achievement Prepares for Another. The miracle
had been performed. The teacher had proved herself
a leader. From that day forth, the community was
completely subject to the wish of their teacher in school
affairs. But putting a roof on the schoolhouse was not
important in itself. A carpenter could have been hired
to do that, if funds had been available. What was all
important in this situation was the cooperative activity
of the neighborhood in a matter of community interest, —
the effect this activity had upon subsequent community
activities and upon the life and the spirit of the com-
munity as a whole. From that day forth every citizen
felt a personal interest in his school and in his community.
As time went on, weekly community meetings were held
at the schoolhouse. Some of these meetings were purely
social, some were for entertainment, some were informa-
tional. The people began to discuss ways and means of
improving their farms, their live stock, their houses, their
roads, and their school. A farmers' reading circle, a
mothers' club, and boys' and girls' agricultural clubs
were organized, as special features of the community
center. Under the leadership of the teacher, the school
had become for the first time a cooperative unit of society.
Developing Community Leaders. So let no one say,
" It cannot be done." It is being done with greater or
less degree of success by thousands of teachers every
year. Many of our country's greatest leaders in every
line of human endeavor have come from rural communis
36 The Community Center
ties. They have become great leaders because they have
had opportunity to develop their powers. Among those
who have remained on the farms there are likewise many
who possess latent powers of leadership, needing but a
word of encouragement from the local teacher to release
their pent-up energies.
Personal Courage of First Importance. The greatest
obstacle in the path of the teacher charged with the
responsibility of leadership is the fear of failure. Many
teachers lack the courage necessary to make a beginning.
But over and over again the wi'iter has heard teachers
declare joyfully, " Everything went just fine after we
got things started." We take the liberty to quote from
a letter received recently from a rural school teacher who
was not afraid to try.
My school was located in a small village where there were no
social activities whatsoever, except church and Sunday School,
both of which were very poorly attended. I took great pains to
advertise our first meeting. The topic of discussion for the even-
ing was "Better Rural Schools." About sixty persons attended
this meeting, a very unusual gathering for New Creek. Every one was
delighted with the program, and I took care to speak to all the people
and invite them to come again. The next program, "Ye Old Time
School Days," was attended much better than the first. This pro-
gram was for the older people. From this time on, the interest grew and
our success was assured. Two evenings we had lantern-slide lectures
on agricultural subjects. At Christmas time, the church and the
school united and gave a Christmas program with a community
Christmas tree. Our meetings were held every Friday evening,
except when the weather was unusually bad. The average attend-
ance was about sixty, the largest attendance being about one hun-
dred. At least eighty per cent of the parents attended these meet-
ings regularly. We raised about sixteen dollars for school improve-
ments and now the whole community is taking an active interest
in the school.
I taught the school of thirty-six pupils without any trouble, which
Leadership and the Community Center 37
is something that had not been done here for several years. I am
sure my success with the school was due in a measure to the com-
munity center. We expect next year to turn the community center
into an evening school for part of the time. The farmers of the
community expect to get together to study agriculture. One of the
best farmers in the community has volunteered to lead this study.
The mothers expect to form a literary club. I expect to work from
now on to interest illiterates in this movement. The teachers near by
are going to cooperate with me, and we expect to make the work go.
This letter is worthy of careful study. Note that
" a very poorly attended '' church and Sunday School
were the only " social " activities in this community.
That is typical of the average rural community. The
teacher " took great pains to advertise the first meeting."
That is necessary if the teacher would have a good attend-
ance. Note the topics for discussion at the first and
second meetings : " Better Rural Schools " and " Ye
Old Time School Days." The latter is particularly help-
ful in getting the people to think about their schools.
People, especially older people, like to hark back to the
experiences of earlier days. Note also that the second
meeting was better attended than the first, which is
usually the case. " From this time on the interest grew
and our success was assured . . . and now the whole
community is taking an interest in the school." If a
teacher can have eighty per cent of the community mem-
bers with him at the schoolhouse once a week, he will
have no complaint to make that the people do not show
proper interest in his school ; for if the teacher will first
show interest in his community, the community is almost
sure to show interest in the school. Note also that the
teacher had no trouble with the school of thirty-six. Of
course not, because she had the loyal cooperation of the
parents as well as of the children.
38 The Community Center
New Opportunities Become Visible. But the finest
part of this teacher's experience is her outline for the
next year, — a night school, a class in agriculture led by
one of the best farmers of the community, a mothers'
literary club, an opportunity for illiterates to overcome
their handicap, and the cooperation of her neighbor
teachers in all of these undertakings. How much better
that is than to be wondering if next year she can find
another school where she may have a little easier time!
For one of the best features of the community center
work is that usually the successful teacher becomes so
interested in his community the first year that he feels
he must stay longer in order to carry out the plans which
he has already devised. It is the " doctrine of interest "
applied in a very practical and a very effective way.
The Press Takes Notice. Inclosed with the letter
just quoted is a newspaper clipping, which the teacher
did not mention but which is so suggestive of the possi-
bilities of the community center at its best that we quote
it also :
A society known as the New Creek Civic Club has been organized
in this community. The movement started with the members
of the hygiene class of the New Creek School, who determined to
band themselves together in order to carry on more successfully a
war against the house fly, which has become a pest in our community.
Other objects of the club are beautifying home grounds, destroying
weeds and keeping the school grounds in order during the summer
vacation. The movement has spread until a large number of citi-
zens of the community have joined the club.
A meeting is held every two weeks, at which the best ways of
carrying on the war against the house fly are discussed and each mem-
ber gives a report of what he or she has been doing. Literature on
the house fly is to be scattered broadcast among the people of the
community. The slogan of the club is "Clean up and beautify
Leadership and the Community Center 39
Developing a Constructive Program. Such work grows
from year to year. Attacking one problem reveals the
existence, and suggests the solution, of many others.
The program soon becomes constructive. If every school
in the United States had as its teacher the kind of leader
that New Creek school had, at least nine tenths of all our
rural life problems would shortly work themselves out.
The rural populations are not dead, but sleeping. They
need waking up. They are like a vast army sleeping
upon its arms, waiting for a leader to arouse them and
to lead them forth to action. The logical leader of the
rural community is the teacher, but many teachers are
also sleeping. We have faith, however, that from year to
year more and more of our rural teachers vdll hear the
call to service and will respond to that call.
1. To what extent have you made yourself a leader in the com-
munities in which you have taught?
2. What are the greatest obstacles you have met in becoming a
3. How have you overcome such obstacles and with what success?
4. Select a community with which you are acquainted, but in
which you have not been a teacher, and explain in detail the method
you would follow in making yourself a leader as teacher in that com-
5. In the same community how would you secure the cooperation
of the other agencies of rural leadership with the school?
6. Indicate how you would employ the press as a means of es-
tablishing your leadership in that community.
7. Referring to exercise 4, state in some detail how you would
proceed to secure the cooperation of the ministers and other recog-
nized leaders in the community.
8. For the community selected under exercise 4, outline in detail
the method you would follow in 'developing local leaders from among
THE COMMUNITY CENTER IDEA
1. WHAT IS A RURAL COMMUNITY?
One who has familiarized himself with the literature
dealing with the purposes and the methods of community
center workers is forced to the conclusion that there is
more or less agreement among these workers as to what
the general purposes of the community center should be,
but that there is still a good deal of confusion among
the workers themselves, and especially among the people
generally, as to just what the community center is, the
particular problems it should undertake to solve, and the
methods to be employed for attainmg the best results.
A Definition of a Community. tThe first step in the
development of the community center idea is to deter-
mine what we mean by the phrase, rural community,
Mr. C. J. Galpin of the University of Wisconsin has
described the rural community as follows:
Take the village as the community center; start out from here
on any road into the open country; you come to a home, and the
deep wear of the wheels out of the yard toward the village indicates
that this home naturally goes to this village for trade, doctor, post-
office, church, lodge, entertainment, high school; the next home
the same, and the next, until by and by you come to a home where
the ruts run the other way and the grass grows a little perhaps in the
turn toward the village, and you find that this home goes to an ad-
joining town for its major associations; between these two homes
is the bounding line of the community. . . . The village and the
The Community Center Idea 41
open country form a community of homes which seem to be a sort
of social drainage basin, beyond whose border every home drains
off into some other basin/
The School Community. This definition of a rural
community by Mr. Galpin is an excellent description of
a community whose geographical center is a village: It
is not, however, descriptive of the rural community of
the open country, such as we shall usually have in mind
in these discussions.'> For while the people of Mr. Gal-
pin's village community go to the village for trade, doctor,
lodge, and high school, the people of the strictly rural
community do not go there for church and entertainment,
except occasionally to church where none is to be found
in the country, and for entertainment only upon some
special occasion, such as the district or county fair or a
Fourth of July celebration. Moreover, rural free delivery
of mails has made it unnecessary for them to go to the
village post office. Within such average village com-
munity will be found a number of smaller communities —
strictly rural — whose centers are the schoolhouses or
the churches. It is these smaller rural communities,
or neighborhoods, with which the rural community cen-
ter is likely to be most concerned for the present.
The size of the village community depends in part
upon the topography of the country, the condition of the
public highways, the facilities for transportation, and the
sparsity of the population ; while the size of the smaller
communities, or neighborhoods, is usually determined
by the group of families who patronize the school or the
church. The village itself, of course, is a community
center for its own inhabitants and for those families who
live in its immediate vicinity. /For our immediate pur-
poses we may, therefore, define the rural community as
42 The Community Center
the group of homes from which the children go to the same
school, wheth^ that he a one-teacher school or a consoli-
It should be added, however, that the consolidation
of a group of one-teacher schools does not in every case
result in a corresponding consolidation of their respective
school communities, and in such cases the benefits to be
gained by the consolidation of schools are very greatly
discounted. On the other hand, it will be found pos-
sible in many places to consolidate a group of school
communities into a single community center without
at the same time consolidating the schools. Unless the
schools and their communities can be consolidated at
the same time, the most effective way of bringing about
school consolidation of the best type may be first to
consolidate the school communities through the activi-
ties of the larger community center.
2. COMMUNITY INTERESTS
Revival of Interest in Country Life. It has been claimed
by some students of country life, that in a great many
rural communities the people have no community interests ;
that they have lost most of the interest they once possessed
in country life, resulting in a corresponding loss of interest
in their farms, their homes, their schools, their churches,
and all things else pertaining to their present surroundings.
To a certain extent that claim may be based on facts.
There are many signs, however, indicating that, although
these rural folk may have been at one time discouraged
with existing conditions and opportunities, they have
lately taken fresh courage and become better satisfied with
the newer opportunities of the country. For example,
The Community Center Idea 43
we ought to consider in this connection the significance
of the fact that within the past decade, and particularly
within the past few years, rural people have voted bonds
and special levies for schools, public highways, and other
community improvements to an extent never before known
in the history of this country. The majority vote upon a
proposition to establish a high school in a community
would seem to be a fairly accurate measure of the senti-
ment of that community towards country life.
Judging from that point of view, we may reasonably
assume that a majority of the people now living in the
country still have faith in its opportunities and that
they are not so badly dissatisfied with their present
situations as we have been led to suspect. There are
indications also that the migration of rural populations
to the cities may have passed the peak of that move-
ment and that from now on we may expect greater sta-
bility in the rural population. No doubt the present
high prices which every kind of farm produce commands,
and the correspondingly high cost of living in the city,
are very largely responsible for this changed attitude
of the rural folk, if we are correct in believing such change
has taken place. Furthermore, the rural people are
becoming better acquainted both with the advantages
of the country and with some disadvantages of the city.
Contributing directly to such knowledge are the schools,
the agricultural agencies, and the publicity campaigns
that have been carried on in recent years in the interests
of country life.
Such considerations as these increase our faith in the
country and renew our hopes for continued improve-
ment of country living. They do not, however, cover
the whole rural situation. For in spite of what has al-
44 The Community Center
ready been attained in the way of improving rural con-
ditions, more and greater achievements await the efforts
of the present and future generations. In fact, we have
only recently begun in earnest the constructive work
of rural life betterment.
vjndividual Interests and Community Interests. For com-
munity purposes, the activities and interests of the in-
dividuals composing such a community will be only in-
cidental to the activities and interests of the community
as a whole. Yet it will be apparent that certain of the
individual interests are also of common interest to the
whole group, and the aggregate of these common inter-
ests constitutes the principal field of the community
center. To illustrate : The primary interests of Farmer
Jones are (1) that he shall get the best possible yield
from his farm and (2) that he shall receive the highest
possible price for his farm products. These are individual
or family interests. Yet the whole community is interested
in the success of Farmer Jones in attaining these ends ;
for his prosperity and that of every other farmer of the
group determines the general prosperity of the community.
Reasoning from that point of view, we may conclude,
therefore, that whatsoever the community can do towards
the improvement of farming conditions in that community
may properly become of interest to the whole group. It
is fair to assume, also, that such deepened community
interest in improving farming conditions will arouse a
consequent desire on the part of the group for the im-
provement of schools, roads, health conditions, moral
surroundings, social and recreation facilities. Such special
features of farming conditions may become enterprises
which the whole community will strive to promote for
mutual benefit. And it is for the promotion of such
The Community Center Idea 45
enterprises that the community center has its chief sig-
In proportion to any lack of common interests to be
found in a given rural community will usually be noted
a lack of individual interests; not so much perhaps in
the immediate business affairs of the individuals as in
the institutions and in the general tone of the community.
Where it is found that a rural community has apparently
lost interest in agriculture and in the improvement of
rural conditions, it may be difficult to determine whether
this changed situation has come about as a result of loss
of interest in farming as a business or in what may be
termed the accessories of farming; that is, in the rural
institutions and in country life in general. In either
case, there is opportunity in the community center to
renew the faith of the people in country living. Whether
the point of attack shall be in improved methods of agri-
culture or in improved rural conditions centering around
agriculture, will usually depend upon the prime inter-
ests of the people at the moment. An attack from either
angle of the situation will result in substantially the same
achievements; namely, the general improvement of liv-
ing conditions in a given community.
Common Interests and Improved Living Conditions.
As has been pointed out above, there are indications
that the tide of rural migration may already have reached
the turning point; that there is now an increasing
tendency in rural populations towards greater stability,
with a correspondingly greater interest in rural life and
rural institutions. Instead of going to the city to secure
better educational advantages for his children, or for
recreation, entertainment, or religious worship, the
average farmer is, we believe, becoming more and more
46 The Community Center
inclined to join his fellows in providing all of these ad-
vantages in his own neighborhood. At the same time
the farmers are pursuing improved methods of agricul-
ture, which in itself furnishes them with stronger motives
for remaining on their farms and providing better facili-
ties of country living. Good roads mean increased op-
portunities for marketing the farm products and for
travel. The consolidated elementary school is designed
to provide the country boy better educational training
than he could get in the city elementary school. Of
very great significance is the rapid growth of the rural
high school movement at the present time. The courses
of study in these high schools are intended to be so ar-
ranged that the pupils may get what they most need.
If they intend to be farmers, they may pursue those
studies which will give them the maximum of general
culture that is consistent with their chief purpose of pre-
paring to be good farmers. If they are looking towards
a profession and the necessary college or university train-
ing, then they may select their programs of study with
such aims in view. Our imaginations fairly soar in
contemplation of the time when a considerable majority
of the rural populations will have had such an educa-
tional training as the rural high school is designed to
offer the boys and girls who expect to remain on the
As the rural populations become more and more inter-
ested in the opportunities that the country offers for a
livelihood, largely by means of such improved condi-
tions as we have just indicated, they will develop greater
interest also in the church, in facilities for greater social
and recreational enjoyment, and in all things else that
pertain to country-life improvement. If it is possible
The Community Center Idea 47
for the country people to prosper, to enjoy their leisure,
to educate their children, and to develop permanent
community interests and associations, then the city will
no longer possess its old-time charms for them. Whether
economic prosperity shall come first, or whether a more
wholesome social life shall precede as a means of attain-
ing to greater prosperity, is more or less immaterial,
since in any case these two conditions must supplement
each other in the general process of bringing about a better
status of country living. It is one of the aims of this
volume to point out some ways of assisting country
people, by working through the community center, to
find both better social life and greater prosperity, to the
end that the country may become a more desirable place
to live while maintaining a livelihood.
3. WHAT IS A COMMUNITY CENTER?
The Community Center a Real Need. The revival
of the community center idea has the appearance of
being the spontaneous response of a large number of
leaders to strong community needs, each leader, or group
of leaders, trying in his own way to meet the changed
social, moral, and economic conditions which have come
upon us, both urban and rural alike. We have had a deal
of experience with the community center, but much of
this experience has not been available as suggestive of
what our aim should be or of the best ways of attaining
to such aims as we have.
Mr. John Hogan, Jr., has described the situation in
this way :
In spite of the enormous extent of community center work
throughout the United States, there is among us a grave lack of
48 The Community Center
coordination. We have centers here and there and everywhere,
all attempting to solve the same problems, most of them making the
same mistakes, but some finally achieving successful solution. Now,
if it were possible to make available to all centers everywhere the
work which any one of us had completed successfully, or the method
by which we overcame our difficulties, then the rest of us would be
saved the labor and hopelessness of a struggle in vain, and we could
be put at once on the right track. If only that much could be done,
the successful efforts of all of us would have much more far-reaching
We do not assume that Mr. Hogan would have all of
us do the same things in exactly the same ways. Local
conditions vary greatly in different communities, and our
efforts must be adjusted, in so far as may be, to these
local conditions. We can, however, note what projects
have been successfully carried out, the results obtained,
the methods employed, together with some general sug-
gestions, and then let each individual, or group of in-
dividuals, make of this body of material what he may.
That much, if well done would be a long step towards
making effective the activities of the community center.
y How Some Leaders Have Tried to Meet Such Need.
/That the community center movement is a response of
leaders to strongly felt social needs and that its activi-
ties are necessarily guided by local social, political, and
economic conditions are both borne out by the notable
example of the " social center " in Rochester, New York,
j nmder the leadership of Mr. Edward J. Ward, sometime
1 director of the recreation facilities of that city. The
j conditions which obtained there evidently impressed
I Mr. Ward with the idea that he could accomplish most
I of his assigned duties by having the people meet at the
\ public schoolhouse to discuss the political and social
policies of the city. Later, he and his co-workers sue-
The Community Center Idea 49
ceeded in having the public schoolhouses used also as
voting places in elections. Mr. Ward records the achieve-
ments of the social centers in Rochester in a most help-
ful and suggestive book.^
In Boston and in other New England cities Mr. War-
ren Dunham Foster has done very notable work with
the community center by conceiving recreation as the
basal factor in the community center movement and by
correlating about recreation all the other phases of this
general movement. Others have approached the same
general problem and achieved the same general results
through the activities of the Boy Scouts, the Camp Fire
Girls, the Y. M. C. A., the Y. W. C. A., the Grange, the
church, the Chautauqua, the " spelling bee," the school
*' literary," the drama, evening schools, agricultural
In every case we should bear in mind, first, that our
ultimate aim is community building in the broadest
sense of that phrase; and secondly, that in attaining
to that goal, we shall have to begin with the previous
experiences of the people with whom we are associated
at the moment)
Is the Community Center a Meeting Place ? As a matter
of convenience, every community should have a meet-
ing place, where the people may come together at any
convenient time and feel at home. And for certain
kinds of community activities such a place is absolutely
necessary. /Usually the logical place for such as-
semblies, partitrularly in rural communities, is the school-
house, although in many communities the church, the
grange \hall, or some other place will be found more con-
venient) Within the past few years many states have
1 The Social Center, D. Appleton & Company
50 The Community Center
waged campaigns to secure the legal privilege of hold-
ing public meetings at the schoolhouse, more especially
as voting places. This propaganda has the active sup-
port of President Wilson and of many other men and
wojnen of national prominence.
/The schoolhouse is found to be the logical place for
coTnmunity meetings in most rural communities for the
following reasons: (1) In many rural communities no
other meeting place is available; (2) the schoolhouse
is public property, which is idle more than half the time,
and its use for this purpose is, therefore, an extra divi-
dend upon the people's investment; (3) the public
schoolhouse is everywhere free from sectarian and po-
litical feelings of any sort; and (4) the average rural
community cannot afford to provide a hall or lease a
room for such purpose, even if this were necessary.
Perhaps the chief disadvantage of the schoolhouse
as a meeting place for the community center is the fact
that the average rural schoolhouse is not constructed
and not equipped for such purposes^ Usually the seats
are nailed to the floor and, as they have been selected
and placed with reference only to the convenience of the
children, adults find it almost impossible to occupy them.
Manufacturers of school furniture now manufacture
also removable desks, which can easily be arranged for
community center meetings. In a great many places
the schools are fitted up with kitchens for teaching do-
mestic arts; these may be used also for the purpose of
serving refreshments upon proper occasions. As the
community center work progresses, we may reasonably
expect that greater care will be taken to construct and
equip the schoolhouse with a view to accommodating
the people when assembled there.
The Community Center Idea 51
A Function of the Community Center. The school-
house will serve as a community meeting place for all
ordinary occasions, such as entertainments, public dis-
cussions, voting, literary programs, and " sociables."
But the community center, like a court, a seat of govern-
ment, or an army headquarters, may be temporarily at
any other place in the community, or even outside the
community. (Wherever the people or a representative
group of them come together for a specific and common
purpose, there is a meeting of the community centeK Ex-
amples of such other occasions are the community pic-
nic, the agricultural fair, the farm demonstration, the
xathletic contest, a popular wedding, a public reception,
^^herefore, we may say that any community activity in
which all or a group of the people are interested may
be regarded as a function of the ccmimunity center,
whether at the schoolhouse or elsewheim.
This classification purposely makes prominent the
community cooperative idea and subordinates every-
thing else to this idea. For after all, the community
center is the working together of a group of people who
have common interest in a definite purpose, ^s Mr.
Warren Dunham Foster puts it, " The community center
is an idea, not a place. 7
Is the Community Center an Organization ? We are
accustomed to think of the community center in terms
of organization — president, vice president, secretary,
treasurer, committees, constitution, by-laws, etc. The
tendency of this work has probably been towards over-
organization to the extent that the organization is in
danger of getting in the way of real progress and effective
work. The community center is not necessarily an or-
ganization at all ; yet in most communities a mild form
62 The Community Center
of organization may be most effective. Whether an
organization should at first be effected, and what kind
of organization should be attempted, depend very largely
upon the previous experiences of the group or community
concerned. If they have been accustomed to work
under organization, then perhaps one were best even
frc^ the first, but usually the less formal the better.
[The results of the community center work are meas-
xired by the degree of responsiveness which comes from
the people themselves. Let the people first get the habit
of coming together informally, and they will soon begin
to devise their own ways and means of doing things.
There may spring up a number of organizations at the
community center, the latter becoming the composite
of these several organizations. And if allowed to work
out their organizations according to the several group
interests, each will feel the joy of having a part in achiev-
ing whatever good results may follow. Let the teacher
assume the leadership at first, and succeeding events
will in all probability point the way to the best method
The writer emphasizes this point because he believes
that the plan just suggested will prove to be best for the
success of the community center work in general, and
more particularly because he believes that the plan will
result in most cases in developing leaders from the people
themselves. Having in mind the first meeting, let us
suppose that the community is assembled — "for or-
ganization " as it is frequently put. Some one says,
" Whom shall we have for president? " Somebody
else is likely to nominate a person with no special quali-
fications for such responsibility. The mere nomina-
tion is likely to mean the election — whether a prominent
The Community Center Idea 53
citizen or a wag makes little difference so far as the popu-
lar vote is concerned. Once there is such an election,
the choice is pretty sure to stand for that year ; and if a
poor choice is made, the hands of the community are
completely tied by the blundering inactivity and in-
efficiency of the chosen leader, who in reality may not be
a leader at all. By the end of the first year, if not several
months sooner, the community center is dead and buried.
There is no surer way of killing such an undertaking than
by failing to secure from the very first the most com-
petent leader, or leaders, to be found in the community.
For these reasons the teacher will do well to disregard
formal organization, at first anyway, and assume the
leadership himself. The experiences of a few. weeks will
reveal to him whether organization should have promi-
nence in the community center. >
Summary and Definitions, frhe community center,
then, is not a place nor an organization, two terms often
so closely associated with it as to be loosely thought of
as the thing itself. The people of a community or neighbor-
hood acting together in projects of common interest to the
whole community, or to a considerable group of the individuals
composing such community, whether these projects be for
social enjoyment, entertainment, intellectual stimulus, patri-
otic demonstration, or for constructive plans of economic,
civic, social, or moral improvement, tend to satisfy the purposes
of the community center^ There can be no doubt that the
community center meets a real social need in country com-
munities. It can be made to touch the lives and the
activities of a. community in many ways, which vary
according to local conditions. Yet it is difficult to say
just what it is, because its full possibilities have not yet
been discovered. The late Dr. Luther H. Gulick de-
54 The Community Center
fined the community center in a rather idealistic way as
The community center does not exist to improve people, although
it undoubtedly does this. It does not exist to make them more
healthy, though it may accomplish this also. It exists that life
may flower more fully. Life, when applied to human beings, means
social life. Business exists to furnish living; social life exists to
develop friendships. Therefore, that community center is most
successful which brings people together in such a way that social
life, friendship, comradeship, brotherly love is most fully developed.
The main question is not so much. What do you do at the center?
as, Whom are you with? Casual conversation with the right people
may be of greater significance than any course of improving study.
The opportunity of the center is that it may bring kindred hearts
together, who, under the stimulus that each furnishes, shall bring
out the finest undiscovered talent and beauty, and intensify life
in its inmost shrine — that of personality.
Mr. John Collier defines the community center in this
Twenty-five years ago Eugene Haberman, just graduated from
Pennsylvania University, went hunting geological specimens. At
Highlands, North Carolina, then forty miles from any railroad, he
suddenly felt a passion for that most vague and most real thing
known to men, which we call Home. He settled. He located an
experimental school, where for ten years he worked as an unknown
forerunner of Professor John Dewey. It was a pay school, though
Haberman did most of the paying, and he ran a country printing-
press for a living. He built on the doctrine of interest, of group
efifort and self-building through communal work. He exploited the
local environment. I first met Haberman, an elderly man now,
among his pupils who had grown to be men. He was leading a dis-
cussion of national economic policies from where he sat on a cracker
box in the general store of Highlands. That store was a community
center, and Haberman's school was a community center.
Forty miles west from Haberman's country, a North Carolina
school teacher said, "Let us sing." They sang from the old square
notes, antiquated seventy years ago. This is the hilly country.
The Community Center Idea 55
Spurs of the Great Smoky Mountains divide cove from cove, settle-
ment from settlement, family from family. I must be brief — They
sing all over three counties. They sing from funeral to funeral,
from wedding to wedding. They sing at invalids' beds. They sing
at singing conventions which last for days ; camp meetings they are,
but the purpose is community singing by competing groups. Neither
church nor state has promoted this movement. It has no literature,
no officers, no budget, no building. But in the three years past the
singing impulse — organized singing — has penetrated all the valleys
of this lonely and somber mountain land. It makes me think —
this music movement which hasn't even a name — of the roseate or
golden mists that one sees at dawn there, linking cove with cove and
intimating' a glory yet to be.
This is a community center.
Let us close the chapter by allowing Miss Agnes Moore,
teacher at Rocky Point, North Carolina, for the year
1916-1917, to tell how she expressed the community
center idea :
We have our Woman's Betterment Association, which has done
more for our school than any other factor. Our men are also mem-
bers. Early in the fall we had an old-fashioned "corn husking"
and "candy pulling," to which old and young came. We have a
Sewing Club which meets at the schoolhouse every two weeks. This
is alternated by cooking lessons. Both the Farmers' Alliance and
Union hold monthly meetings here. On Saturday before school
opened, the. parents, teachers, and pupils met and cleaned up the
schoolhouse and grounds and afterwards enjoyed a good picnic dinner
together. All enjoyed a community Christmas tree before the
Christmas holidays began. Then came Community Service, Bird,
and Arbor Day. We had about one hundred workers present. We
again accomplished much needed work and got a little closer to-
gether. Next came Washington's Birthday celebration, in con-
nection with a Valentine Party. Our Farmers' Institute was one of
the best ever held here. We have also given two plays which were
well attended. On the first of February we organized the Athletic
Club. We have a school library of about two hundred and fifty
volumes. We have also had two traveling libraries this year. The
66 The Community Center
community has free access to both. We have a literary society in
our school. Our pupils won forty premiums at our county fair.
1. Make a map of a community which you know, or of the one
in which you teach. Let your map be a picture of the community,
showing the roads, streams, and hills, the location of the school,
churches, and homes, and other relevant features.
2. Is the school the natural center of this community: (a) from
the topographical standpoint? (h) from the social standpoint?
Give reasons for your answers.
3. Study the habits of the people of this community : (a) Is the
community a well-defined neighborhood? (6) For what reasons do
the people go to other communities, or to larger centers? (c) If you
should make your school a community center, would you thereby
change the social habits of the people? (d) Would the school as a
community center satisfy the social needs of the people?
4. Take the same community or another community which you
know, and make a map showing the location of the homes ten years
ago and of the homes to-day. If any families have moved away from
the community in the past ten years, find out, if possible : (a) where
they have gone; (6) why they left the community; (c) what
success they have had in their new habitat; (d) what effect their
moving away has had on the community ; i.e. whether other families
have moved into the community to take their places, and whether
the community gained or lost by the emigration of these families,
considered from social, moral, and economic standpoints.
5. Outline a program covering a period of five years that you
would follow in leading the people of the community studied under
exercise 1 to renew their faith in the farm and in country life.
THE ENJOYMENT OF LEISURE
1. A NEW DEMAND ON THE SCHOOLS
For a good many years we have stressed the importance
of training children for the vocations. Recently we have
come to recognize the fact that both for the welfare of
the individual and for the good of society it is important
also to train children for the enjoyment of their leisure
during their more mature years. Dr. W. C. Ruediger has
stated this phase of the problem clearly : ^
The idea is beginning to prevail more and more that education
should function not only in the home, in citizenship, in industry, and
in business, but that it should function also in those activities that
the people pursue for the purpose of enjoyment. This is manifesting
itself in the relatively frequent discussion of such topics as education
for leisure, education for play, and education for recreation. It is
asserted that the needs and the opportunities for recreation have
changed with the developments in other phases of life, that their needs
can no longer be adequately met on an instructive and untutored
plane, and that, therefore, the school should make equipment for the
pursuits of leisure one of its specific aims.
The Demand Grows Out of Changed Economic and
Social Conditions. This new demand upon the school
is to a very large extent an outgrowth of changing social
conditions, particularly those conditions surrounding
labor. When the laborer toiled from twelve to sixteen
1 See chapter on "Avocational Guidance" in The Modern High
Schoolf by Charles H. Johnston and others.
58 The Community Center
hours a day, he had almost no leisure. The little time
he had off duty was spent mainly in eating and in sleep.
Now the working day allows the worker several hours
for the enjoyment of leisure. The manner of spending
this leisure time is a matter of great importance both
to the worker himself and to society. For the old adage,
" An idle brain is the devil's workshop," has great sig-
nificance to the general welfare of society. A great many
business enterprises have shown their appreciation of
this fact by providing at the corporation's expense bath-
ing facilities, billiard tables, bowling alleys, baseball
diamonds, motion picture theaters, and other forms of
recreation and amusement for their employees.
The Farmer Has More Leisure But Fewer Oppor-
tunities to Enjoy It. In the country districts it will be
found that the people have even more leisure at certain
seasons of the year than those who live in the industrial
centers, but that, speaking generally, they have fewer
opportunities for its enjoyment. Most farmers are very
busy during the crop seasons, but they are usually less
busy during the winter months. In Denmark and some
other foreign countries these winter months are utilized
by the farmers in attending continuation schools of
agriculture. In the United States, however, we have
not yet gone so far in this movement, although some of
our agricultural colleges and departments of agriculture
in our state universities offer short courses in agriculture
and related subjects in the winter months. In many rural
commimities the people do not read a great deal, mainly
because they have very little reading matter available.
History, fiction, literatm'e, and economics may not in-
terest some of them, largely because their training in
the schools and their subsequent experiences in life have
The Enjoyment of Leisure 59
not been such as to arouse their interest in these subjects.
The same is true in respect to their interest in music,
art, nature, and the sciences. Therefore, since proper
forms of amusement are not always easily available and
since these people have not all been trained in convenient
forms of amusement, their lives are necessarily somewhat
monotonous and oftentimes devoid of the means of
gratifying the higher sentiments, feelings, and emotions.
About the only means of social intercourse that many
rural communities have may be summarized briefly as
follows : an occasional entertainment at the schoolhouse,
an occasional party or dance, and the associations of
men about the country stores and blacksmith shop.
Farm women have, as a rule, less leisure than men, and
generally fewer opportunities to enjoy that which they
Dangers of Leisure without Opportunities to Enjoy It.
The situation which has just been described may be a
matter of grave consequence to our national welfare.
Mr. Harold W. Foght offers the following comment :
Systematic labor must always react in organized recreation. That
is to say, whenever the human being is tied down to hours of self-
repression, his body craves a certain amount of relaxation to be
sought in play or amusement of some sort. If this is wisely provided,
all goes well ; if ignored as unnecessary and wasteful, the person af-
fected will be sure to seek relief or an outlet for his pent-up desires
in questionable ways and places.
The same idea is expressed by Dr. Eugene Lyman
A large part of our moral derelictions is due to an unbalanced life
from which amusements are largely omitted. The "bad boy" in
the city streets is usually following his instinct for amusement, of
which the lack of playgrounds has deprived him. Dissipation of
60 The Community Center
many kinds is explained in a similar way. It is largely because
workmen are so often drudges and lack normal recreations that they
seek amusement in the concentrated form they find in gambling
places, dives, and dance halls.
The Vocational Ideal versus the Cultural Ideal. In
a democratic society such as ours neither all-cultural
nor all-vocational training will meet the new demands
put upon the schools. Excepting the few idle rich, all
will work. Our problem is, therefore, a twofold one:
first, to find that golden mean between the strictly voca-
tional ideal and the purely cultural ideal; and, second,
to train the children while in school in the best ways of
enjoying their leisure through the working period of their
lives. To this end the school must anticipate the adult
experiences of the children and project its activities into
these experiences. For, we must remember, the dangers
which lurk in the pathways of children lie mainly beyond
the common school age. Later, they will be thrown upon
their own resources in a society which will pay little
attention to them as individuals unless they happen to
violate its code, or to become either famous or notorious.
The efficiency both of the home and of the school will be
tested by the preparation which the children have had
for taking their places in that society and finding in it the
means of living honorable, happy, and useful lives.
2. TRAINING CHILDREN FOR THE ENJOYMENT OF LEISURE
The Arousing of Personal Interests. The first con-
sideration in training for the enjoyment of leisure is the
arousing of personal interests that will be carried over
from the school days into the active pursuits of life. The
mere completion of the usual course of study in the usual
The Enjojrment of Leisure 61
way has been found not very productive in arousing such
personal interests. In spite of all that has been said and
done in the way of professional training of teachers, the
class work as it is usually conducted does not arouse such
an interest in literature, science, and nature as will hold
the pupil's attention after he leaves school. This, of
course, is mainly a problem of pedagogy and need not be
discussed at length in this connection. Suffice it to say,
therefore, that more conscious effort must be made by
the teachers in arousing personal interests that will endure,
if we would enable the pupil to enjoy his future leisure.
Personal Interest in Current Affairs. Of first impor-
tance, perhaps, is a personal interest in current affairs.
Some time ago the writer entered a schoolroom in the
country, having with him a morning paper. He listened
to a sixth grade class reading. He was pleased with
their reading of the lesson in the book. After the class
exercise, he handed one of the pupils the morning paper
and asked him to read a paragraph relative to the World
War. To the writer's surprise, the pupil could scarcely
read the paragraph. He failed in correctly pronounc-
ing the words and in getting the meaning of the news
item. The paper was then passed to other members
of the class with similar results. Upon questioning
the class, it was found that they had not been following
even the chief events of the war and that they knew
very little about it. They had a very hazy idea of the
geography involved, although they were studying at
the time both history and geography. When they were
asked, for example, with what countries the United States
was at war, they gave the following : Germany, France,
England, Japan, British, Turkey, Spain. These children
had a vague idea that somewhere in the world a war was
62 The Community Center
in progress and that the United States had some part
in it. On visiting other schools since then, the writer
has confirmed his opinion that many rural school children,
even in the upper grades, do not read newspapers or
magazines to any great extent, or if they do, with but
faint understanding. Yet through such reading, the
teacher has one of the very best opportunities to arouse
a personal interest that will abide with the children
Personal Interest in Magazines. One step further
in the promotion of personal interest in current affairs
is gained by a study of the subject matter of our best
magazines. These open up the whole field of politics,
current literature, social problems, human welfare,
science, fiction, as well as a more elaborate .treatment
of important national and world events. The magazine
is a sort of symposium of current human life and thought
that introduces the youth to the world of to-day and
creates within him interests which he may care to pursue
through his whole life. A careful reading of a half dozen
of our best magazines enables one to discuss intelligently
the affairs that grip the attention of his contemporaries
throughout the world. We are convinced that a personal
interest of this sort would help somewhat in keeping
many a boy and man contented on the farm.
Personal Interest in Books. Reading magazines leads
directly to a permanent personal interest in current
fiction. If one's interest has been aroused in social,
economic, and historical problems, he will be inclined also
to read books of more serious thought on these problems.
His reading may also develop an interest in highly special-
ized technical reading matter. His personal bent and
his aptitude of mind will, of course, determine both the
The Enjoyment of Leisure 63
kind and the extent of such interests. If the teacher
can do nothing more towards training for the enjoyment
of leisure than to open up to the children the avenues
leading to several fields of reading material, he will have
accomplished a great deal; for once a child's interests
are aroused to this extent, he will of his own accord dis-
cover the kind of reading matter that best fits his personal
Personal Interest in the Drama and in Music and Art.
To arouse the interest of pupils in the drama or in music
or art may be a more difficult task than in the case of
reading, for the reason that the teacher may have neither
the materials nor the facilities at hand for this purpose.
Still, he has some opportunities within his reach. It is
possible, for example, to raise by public entertainments
or by public subscriptions sufficient money to purchase
a few good reproductions of works of art, which the chil-
dren may learn to appreciate through the personal
instruction of the teacher and from manuals of art. If
just enough appreciation can be aroused to create in the
children a desire to see and to learn more, they will find
later a way to satisfy that desire. By means of the
victrola, public concerts, etc., they may likewise develop
a taste for good music that will lead them on to its further
enjoyment. The motion picture machine, which is now
finding its way into some rural districts, is capable of
giving to the children and to their parents some of the
best in drama. Furthermore, the study of a few dramas
in class and the amateur performance of the easier ones
by the children themselves may create in them a desire
for the best in dramatization. The great difficulty
with adults is that so many of us do not know what is
within our reach. We may be in a city where a great
64 The Community Center
masterpiece of art is being exhibited, where a noted musi-
cian is appearing, or where a great play is being produced,
without realizing the significance of such opportunity.
That is because our personal interests in these things
have never been aroused. Just enough knowledge of
these fine treasures to arouse the interest and to cause us
to anticipate the significance of such opportunities may
put us in the way of enjoying some of the best things
in the world.
To this end we may learn much from what some of
the European countries have accomplished. In Copen-
hagen there is a society which each year organizes excur-
sions among country children for the purpose of taking
them to the city. The railroads join in this movement
by granting nominal rates to the excursionists. At such
times the national theater makes special efforts to produce
the most appropriate plays for the children and admits
them at nominal rates. They are guided through the
art galleries, the museums, and the various other places
of interest in the city. An excursion of this kind may be
the means of brightening the life of the child, and the
feeling that he has already seen and to some extent ex-
perienced the best that the city affords may neutralize
somewhat any craving that he may have to live in the
Personal Interest in Nature. The rural school has
special advantages for training children in the enjoyment
of nature. Such training can be done best through instruc-
tion in elementary science. Unfortunately, a great deal
of our work in the elementary sciences is so very bookish
and so hopelessly formal that it has become merely so
much work to be done for a passing mark. In this
country, nature study has, however, accomplished some-
The Enjojrment of Leisure 65
thing in helping children to appreciate the beauties and
the physical phenomena of their immediate surroundings.
Dr. L. H. Bailey once remarked, " The happiness of the
ignorant man is largely of physical pleasures; that of
the educated man is of intellectual pleasures." The
opportunity of the school is that of arousing in the chil-
dren a personal interest in objects of beauty and value
about them, so that they may leave school capable of
enjoying more and more of the beauties and the secrets
Personal Interest in Avocations. One duty of the
school is to help everybody to have a hobby, in the sense
of an avocation, as a means of enjoying his leisure. One
may enjoy his leisure by mere diversions. If he lives
in the city, he may go to a baseball game to-day, to a
motion picture show to-morrow, and to something else
next day; or if he lives in the country, he may spend
his only day off in the week at the country store or black-
smith shop, or he may go hunting or fishing. Such
activities may be valuable as pastimes, but they do not
result from any plan or systematic purpose. The person
who enjoys his leisure in such ways does just what oppor-
tunity affords him or his fancy prompts. For such diver-
sions no special training is necessary. A higher degree
of enjoyment is found in the activities which one pursues
for the sake of culture. Reading newspapers, magazines,
and books, visiting art galleries or museums, enjoying
the beauties of nature, etc., have a cultural value, and
at the same time they provide a means of the highest
If the pursuit of any of the pleasures just enumerated
goes far enough to result in constructive thinking and
expression, then we reach the plane of pursuing an avoca-
66 The Community Center
tion for the enjoyment of leisure. The teacher may
find many opportunities for encouraging and directing
children in avocational pursuits. For example, the
child who shows special talent in music, art, dramatics,
or science should be encouraged to pursue such study to
the extent of expression, if not, indeed, of production.
For we should bear in mind that we have before us the
task of developing a rural civilization that will really
and truly express the thoughts, the feelings, the lives,
and the institutions of rural people living under rural
conditions; that city ideals, city institutions, and city
culture will never be successfully transplanted into the
country; and that rural ideals, institutions, and culture
must eventually spring from among the country people
themselves. Here, then, we certainly find a rich field for
Pursuant to this lead in creative work come oppor-
tunities for leadership in the church, in the Sunday School,
in politics, and in various kinds of social service, training
for all of which may at least be well begun in the schools.
Within the range of possibility also are opportunities
for training young farmers to specialize along lines con-
nected with general farming, poultry raising, horse, cattle,
and pig breeding, the growing of fancy vegetables, the
producing of rare and beautiful flowers. Such avoca-
tions may be the outgrowth of the agricultural club work
being done now in many rural communities.
It is related that Robert Browning and his wife. Lord
and Lady Tennyson, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William
Rossetti were gathered together one evening in London.
Tennyson had just published Maud, and Browning the
two volumes called Men and Women, Each poet was
invited to read from his new work. Tennyson chanted
The Enjojmient of Leisure 67
from Maud, the tears running down his cheeks, and Brown-
ing then read from Fra Lippo Lippi. Rossetti made a
pen-and-ink sketch of Tennyson while the latter was
reading. Here was an instance of a group of people
whose lives had been trained to the keenest possible
intellectual enjoyment. At the other extreme, where
few personal interests have been aroused, we may note
men and boys loafing about the stores or the railroad
stations, or sitting around listlessly, uninterested in
anything, knowing not what to do with themselves. To
some, riding on a train, or waiting for one, is a bore, while
to others the time thus spent is an opportunity for read-
ing, for conversation with friends, or for studying and
enjoying the country through which they are traveling.
To some the Sabbath is the longest day in the week, while
to others it is the most enjoyable. To the young farmer
who has become interested in some line of study or read-
ing, the winter months are a time of rest and enjoyment
after the more strenuous crop seasons, while to another
the same time may be one of depression, restlessness, and
discontent with country life. If the rural school can
devise means of developing in the children some strong
personal interests which will occupy their leisure time
then and in the future, it will have done a great deal
in the solution of the rural life problem.
3. LEADING ADULTS TO THE ENJOYMENT OF LEISURE
What has been said in the foregoing paragraphs of
this chapter relates mainly to the school's opportunity for
the training of children and youths in the enjoyment of
their leisure through the adult period of their lives. It is
a comparatively new idea in our schemes of education.
68 The Community Center
It is suggestive of what most of us grown-ups have missed
by having lived a bit too early to have enjoyed such rare
educational advantages. We come now to the consider-
ation of some things that may be done to alleviate our
misfortune in this respect.
The Community Center May Lead in the Enjojrment of
Leisure. As has already been intimated, rural people
in some communities are more or less isolated. The
custom of visiting among the families of a neighborhood
las disappeared to some extent in many communities,
'he means once available in rural communities for
sS<:iial intercourse, such as school literaries, spelling
bees, etc., have likewise to some extent disappeared.
As a result of the many changes that have come about in
rural communities, the people find there too few oppor-
tunities to enjoy their leisure. Yet experience with the
rural community center in many states has shown con-
clusively that it can be made a means of arousing new!
interests in individuals and of reviving and strength-
ening other interests that have become dormant. The
community center, in leading and directing adults to
an enjoyment of their leisure, may make up to them
what they lacked in their school davs, thus becoming
a sort of " social continuation school.''^
The Community Center Must Have Permanent Values.
In so far as the mere enjoyment of leisure is concerned,
the community center may be regarded as an end in
itself. In many individual cases such enjoyment may
go no farther than the social features of the meetings.
In fact, in many communities where capable leadership
is wanting, the social feature may be the limitation of
the community center activities.
But such commimity centers are sure to die out sooner
The Enjoyment of Leisure 69
or later. Upon this point Mr. W. E. Larson, State Super-
visor of Rural Schools of Wisconsin, has commented as
In all these sodal and civic movements we should realize that
permanent impro^hients are usually of gradual growth. It is not
always the spectacular that is the lasting. The work should have
something of real merit in connection with it. The people should
feel as they are meeting together that they are getting something
that is of permanent value to them in their lives. If this movement
is simply a getting together for the purpose of having a good time,
it usually falls to pieces after a short period. The social feature
should receive recognition, but it should not be the only thing to
consider. For this reason, I think the term "social center" is some-
times misleading. Some people who have been interested in this
movement and, in fact, leaders, have taken it for granted that if
they can simply get the people together and give them a good time,
that is all that is necessary. Our experience in this state has shown
that this is a great mistake. In fact, if the people do get interested
for a short time in a social feature and later the work dies down,
it is much more difficult to get it started again.
Growth of the Community Center. 'As the community
center work progresses, it should be so broadened in its
scope that it will have something of interest for every
individual/as well as a community improvement program
which will interest the community as a whole. \ It should
embrace such forms of wholesome recreation as are best
adapted' to the community conditions, including games,
athletic contests, entertainments, etc. It should awaken
a healthy interest in current events, resulting in public
discussions of political, economic, social, and ethical
questions/ In due time, it should evolve broad construc-
tive programs of community improvement — improve-
ments of agriculture, roads, schools, homes, churches,
social life — each, perhaps, championed and directed
by appropriate organizations within the community
70 The Community Center
center. The number and the scope of these several
community activities will depend, of course, upon the
conditions found in a given community, upon the intelli-
gence and the past experiences of the people, and partic-
ularly upon the quality of the leadership available. Any
teacher, however, if he has the courage, can find among
so many possible community activities a sufficient variety
to create and to maintain the interest of the people in
the community center. Let us remember that the people
will enjoy public discussions and the carrying out of con-
structive community programs, once they have become
interested in these activities, fully as much as they will
enjoy merely social occasions.
1. In the rural community which you know best, what means
do the people have of enjoying their leisure? What recent changes
in social or economical conditions have conspired to make the problem
of the enjoyment of leisure an intricate factor in the social problem
of that community?
2. Contrast the facilities for the enjoyment of leisure in the
average city with those of the average rural community. Are the
differences noted to the advantage or the disadvantage of the rural
3. Enumerate the opportunities the rural teacher has for provid-
ing means of enjoyment of leisure among farmer folk. To what
extent has the average rural teacher met these opportunities in the
4. Is it true that the farmer has more leisure at his disposal than
the shop worker?
5. In the community selected under exercise 1, what evil effects
have you noted as resulting from lack of facilities for the enjoyment
of leisure ?
6. To what extent does the average rural school train children
for the enjoyment of leisure resulting from their "personal interests"
discussed in the text?
What is Recreation ? First we should have a common
understanding of the meaning of the term ''recreation."
There will be differences of opinion, to be sure. But let
us agree for our immediate purpose that any activity,
whether physical or mental^ which affords us harmless
enjoyment of our leisure, is recreation. In the home we
may find recreation in conversation, in reading, or in some
avocation. In the cities we may find recreation outside
the home at the theater, the movies, the Young Men's
Christian Association, the club rooms, the lodge halls.
Some of these forms of recreation are commercial proposi-
tions — if not for profit, then for self-support. In country
districts the various forms of recreation outside the home
are generally provided for recreation's own sake, and at
1. NEED OF RECREATION IN RURAL COMMUNITIES
Need of Social and Mental Recreation in the Country.
Our failure to give proper attention to recreation in rural
communities is perhaps due in part to the general miscon-
ception that rural folk do not need recreation, vf all
the people in the world there is no class which needs rec-
reation more than agricultural workers^ not physical
exercise, but social and mental recreation./
We do not refer to the suburban home where the whole
faraily may go to the city by the interurban or by auto-
72 The Community Center
mobile for their recreation ; nor to the summer homes of
well-to-do city folk, who go to the country only to rest
from their social and business activities. We refer more
especially to those people who live out in the open coun-
try, far from a railroad, and where the public highways
are impassable most of the year — to those who live and
toil in the country.
During the growing and harvesting seasons the farmers'
work is never done; but, during the winter months,
the father and older sons oftentimes find some leisure
after they have finished the daily chores. The work
of the mother and older daughters, on the other hand,
is one unending round throughout the year of cooking,
dish-washing, sweeping, mending, etc. Now, what op-
portunity have these people for social and mental recrea-
tion either to relieve the monotony or to occupy their
What Rural Surveys Show. Surveys ^ in representa-
tive communities (area of each community averaging
fifty-four square miles) in central Illinois record the
following observations :
(in making a study of the recreations and amusements in the terri-
tory covered it was found that in fifty-eight per cent of the communi-
ties there \^ absolutely nothing in the way of amusement and recre-
ational life.y To supply this natural demand the young people make
use of the' Interurban, going to the neighboring cities of Danville,
Bloomington, Decatur, and Springfield for their play and goodfellow-
ship, sometimes securing it in ways which are neither helpful nor
wholesome. In sixty-three per cent of the communities the churches
provide some social life, mostly for members only. Nearly all of
these affairs have on them the dollar mark, as though created for
1 By Rev. Warren H. Wilson, Department of Church and Country
Life, Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the
revenue only. Few outsiders attend these functions. In thirty-
seven per cent of these communities there is not even this small
provision for the social life of the people provided by the churches.
In the way of commendable recreation and amusement provided
by other agencies than the church, fifteen communities have lecture
courses, with about five numbers each winter. These are promoted
by business men. Four have Chautauquas in summer, from one to
two weeks, and eighteen have "picture shows" of a reasonably high
grade going on throughout the year. In twenty-seven communities
there are literary clubs of various kinds, all of them confined to women.
Although all of the communities are in agricultural districts, only
six have any kind of club or organization which might be called agri-
cultural. Cooperation or fellowship among farmers seems to be
confined exclusively to the grain elevators, ten communities having
farmers' elevators whose shares are owned by the farmers them-
selves, and to the yearly farmers* institute of one or two days held
in the country town.
The grade of public dances is low, usually showing immoral tend-
encies. A hall is rented by individuals or clubs and everybody in-
vited to the dance. In some places dancing is kept up all night, and
often ends in a riot. This is especially true in mining towns, where
American young people are strongly influenced by the license of an
In another survey by this board, of three counties
in northeast Missouri, covering a total area of 1719
square miles, we find a similar report :
The recreation facilities in the rural districts are sadly deficient.
The average township affords a little Sunday baseball at some village,
an occasional dance at some home or in a hall, three or four picnics
a summer, two or three ice-cream socials given by the churches, one
pool room, and one or two school entertainments a year. These
are the only recreations offered to one hundred and fifty families in
a given year. The recreations provided by the church, the school,
and the lodge are provided not for the sake of the community so
much as for filling their own treasuries. Nowhere throughout the
country districts is there to be found any organization which con-
siders itself obligated to offer clean, wholesome recreation for young
people or old.
74 The Community Center
What Rural People Themselves Say. In order to know
how best to employ the funds made available by the Smith-
Lever Act, the United States Department of Agriculture
sent out an inquiry to the wives of fifty-five thousand
rural crop correspondents. In their replies, the isolation
of farm women and the lack of opportunities for recrea-
tion are most prominent.
One woman writes :
In all these years I have never had a vacation, never belonged to
a club or any organization, and have never been to church or to an
entertainment ; had no time to visit a neighbor — just worked early
and late, with a snatch for reading between. Do you wonder we
get lonely and discouraged and are ignorant and uncultured, for our
city cousins to make fun over, and how we long to get away from the
farm for good ?
Another tells an interesting and very significant story :
I know a lady who was raised on a farm, married, and went to
town to live. One very cold winter, knowing both she and her babies
had gone without sufficient food and clothing, I said to her: "Don't
you think you would stand a better chance of getting a living in the
country?" "I might," she said, "but I would rather go hungry
half the time than go back to the farm," and she surely meant it,
for I know for a fact that she did just about that. Her case is only
one of thousands.
Some of these correspondents offer some excellent
suggestions upon the work of the community center.
A farmer's wife in Indiana said:
If the department could help promote a more friendly social
feeling and encourage the reading of good books, papers, and maga-
zines, life in the rural sections would be made brighter and the farm
mother and daughter be made more satisfied.
One man, doubtless overlooking the possibilities of
the rural school, offered the following suggestion :
Along the line of improving conditions in the country and thereby-
making it more pleasant for people living on farms, I would suggest
that what might be called a "sociable house" be erected, that could
be of suflEicient capacity to accommodate the residents of a certain
neighborhood. It would be my idea that the building should be
built with a view to using it for singing school, lectures, ice-cream
socials, dances, concerts, and other entertainments of like nature
which would interest the young people as well as the older ones.
It would also give them something to look forward to other than
they are used to now. Church governments, school trustees, and
grange building managers in most instances have somewhat severe
ideas of entertainment, and consequently the young people have
very little latitude in the way of enjoyment. I think you will under-
stand that a building along this line would be a great benefit to our
farming community. A playground for the grown-ups is as important
as for the children.
2. MEANS OF PROVIDING RECREATION IN THE COUNTRY
Means of Recreation at Hand. These men and women
of the farms understand both the lack and the need of
means whereby they and their neighbors may find relaxa-
tion from their monotonous ways of Uving. ^ey crave
recreation and social enjoyment. But they fail to under-
stand that they have all the necessary means of recreation
— the schoolhouse as a meeting place and the teacher
as a leader. Again, the responsibility comes back upon
the teacher. He alone, in most eases, can open the way
to social enjoyment and recreation.
A Recreation Program. In his manual of rural recrea-
tion,i Mr. Warren Dunham Foster outlines a recreation
program as follows :
In every case your study of actual conditions should lead to a
recreation plan that takes into account :
1. The neighborhood center for the social and intellectual life
of the community. You must provide opportunity for the club
^Neighborhood Play, published by the Youth's Companion
76 The Community Center
that discusses the serious sides of agriculture and household arts,
as well as for the boys' debating society and the monthly social.
Singing societies, neighborhood bands, the clubs that give simple
plays and entertainments, lectures on interesting and important
topics — these are well-established aids to community pleasure and
advancement. Remember that no community center enterprise
will succeed unless it is something that your neighbors really desire
and need. A successful community center organization will generally
make it possible for the educational extension forces of your state
to cooperate with your community to the best advantage.
2. Special-day festivals, perhaps with pageantry, upon which the
whole neighborhood should unite for a good time that is worth while.
3. Outdoor fun for old and young, such as picnics, camping, nature
study, and water sport.
4. Non-commercial clubs in agriculture and household arts that
will bring young people together and encourage better farming and
5. Cooperation with outside clubs, such as the Boy Scouts, the
Camp Fire Girls, and the Audubon Society.
6. Athletics, beginning with the local playground and extending
to a county system, planned so as to encourage physical fitness and
good times for all boys and girls rather than the success of a few after
We have reproduced this program because it suggests'
both the nature and the scope of the best recreational
activities with the school as the center. It is only sug-
gestive, however, and the teacher will have to study his
community carefully so that he may know how much
of the program is practicable. The program anticipates,
for example, a certain minimum of play apparatus for
the children's recreation; whereas the securing of such
apparatus may have to be deferred until certain other
features of the community center program have been
We are apt to think of recreation in terms of play,
games, contests, etc. These are only certain forms of
recreation. The debate and the spelling-bee are also
recreational, having even the value of personal and group
contests. School entertainments, box-suppers, agricul-
tural meetings, reading circles, clubs of various kinds, all
may be made recreational. The people of a community-
can find recreation even in coming together at the school-
house to put it in order for the opening of the school.
Under the leadership of the teacher they will soon dis-
cover the activities in which they may find the most
recreational and social enjoyment.
Chapter X offers some suggestions for providing recre-
ation by means of several cooperating agencies that may
be found in one form or another in most rural communi-
ties. Teachers may obtain bulletins and other documents
dealing with the various phases of recreation by writing
to the United States Bureau of Education, requesting
a bibliography of play and recreation. Some bulletins
of this sort may be obtained from the Bureau.
1. Make an inventory of all the facilities for recreation in one or
two rural communities which you know best. What proportion of
the people are benefited by such recreation facilities as you enumerate?
2. Make a list of all the forms of recreation that might be provided
free or at reasonable expense for the people of the same communities.
3. Outline in detail the method you would follow if you were a
teacher in one of these communities, in leading the people to an appre-
ciation of what you understand to be recreation.
4. Explain the differences between the terms "rest" and ** recrea-
5. Prepare a program for recreation in your school community,
or in another community that you know, indicating what you would
expect to accomplish in each of five successive years and also the net
result of your five-year program.
SOCIAL CAPITAL — ITS DEVELOPMENT AND
1. SOCIAL CAPITAL NECESSARY FOR COMMUNITY
Social Capital Defined. In the use of the phrase
" social capital " no reference is made here to the usual
acceptation of the term " capital/' except in a figurative
sense. We do not refer to real estate or to personal prop-
erty or to cash, but rather to that in life which tends to
make these tangible substances count for most in the
daily lives of a people; namely, good will, fellowship,
sympathy, and social intercourse among the individuals
and families who make up a social unit, — the rural
community, whose logical center in most cases is the
school. In community building, as in business organiza-
tion, there must be an accumulation of capital before
constructive work can be done. In building up a large
business of modem proportions, there must first be an
accumulation of capital from a large number of individuals.
When the financial resources of these several individuals
have been brought together under effective organization
and skillful management, they take the form of a busi-
1 The first two sections of this chapter, with a few minor altera-
tions, were contributed by the author to the volume entitled New
Possibilities in Education in The Annals of the American Academy
of Social and Political Science (1916). They are reproduced in this
book by special permission of the editor.
Social Capital — Its Development and Use 79
ness corporation the purpose of which is to produce an
article of consumption — steel, copper, bread, clothing ; or
to provide personal conveniences — transportation, elec-
tricity, thoroughfares. The people benefit by having
such products and conveniences available for their daily
needs, while the capitalists benefit by receiving the profits
as compensation for their services to society.
Now we may easily pass from the business corporation
over to the social corporation, the community, and find
many points of similarity. The individual is helpless
socially, if left to himself. Even the association of the
members of one's own family fails to satisfy that desire
which every normal individual has of being with his
fellows, of being a part of a larger group than the family.
If he comes into contact with his neighbors, there will
be an accumulation of social capital, which may immedi-
ately satisfy his social needs and which may bear a social
potentiality sufficient for the substantial improvement of
life in the whole community. The community as a whole
will benefit by the cooperation of all its parts, while the
individual will find in his associations the advantages of
the help, the sympathy, and the fellowship of his neigh-
bors. First, then, there must be an accumulation of
community social capital. Such accumulation may be
effected by means of public entertainments, picnics,
and a variety of other community gatherings. When
the people of a given community have become acquainted
with one another and have formed a habit of coming
together occasionally for entertainment, social inter-
course, and personal enjoyment, then by skillful leader-
ship this social capital may easily be directed towards the
general improvement of the comm.unity well-being.
That there is a great lack of such social capital in some
80 The Community Center
rural districts need not be retold in this chapter. Every-
body who is familiar with rural conditions knows that
to be true. The important question at this time is:
How can these conditions be improved ?
2. A STORY OF ACHIEVEMENT
The story which follows is an account of the way a
West Virginia rural community in a single year actually
developed social capital and then used this capital in the
improvement of its recreational, intellectual, moral, and
economic conditions. The community under discussion
is a rural district of thirty-three square miles, which
embraces fifteen school communities. Three of these
school communities are villages having graded schools;
the other twelve are rural, having one-teacher schools.
The total population of the district is 2180, of whom
771 are of school age, six to twenty-one years. The
school organization consists of a board of education, a
district supervisor, and twenty-three teachers.
This district supervisor, Mr. Lloyd T. Tustin, of Hun-
dred, West Virginia, was from an adjoining county.
He came into the district two weeks before the date set
by the board of education for the opening of the schools.
He spent these two weeks going about the district, con-
ferring with the local trustees, getting acquainted with
the people, and having the schoolhouses put in order for
the beginning of the school term. On the Saturday before
the Monday on which the schools were to begin he held
his first teachers' meeting. The board of education was
present. At this first meeting definite plans were made for
the year's work. Among the plans made, the following are
some that were carried through to successful conclusion.
Social Capital — Its Development and Use 81
Community Survey. Each teacher made a survey of
his school community (a) to determine the physical
and human resources of the people ; (6) to learn the crop
yield of the farms ; and (c) to find what children in the
community were not attending school and the reasons
therefor. These individual surveys were brought together
and tabulated as a survey of the whole district. They
were used to advantage later in acquainting the people
with the conditions and needs of the schools.
Community Center Meetings. This survey proved
to be of incalculable value to the teacher, both in his
regular school work and in his work for the community
center. He was able to learn at first hand the home life
of his pupils and to become acquainted with their parents.
His work among the homes aroused unusual response in
the parents, for no other teacher had ever shown so much
interest in their welfare. When he announced that
there would be a meeting at the schoolhouse for all the
citizens, nearly all were interested and most of them came.
The nature of this fu*st meeting is indicated by the fol-
lowing program :
Song, led by the school choir
Address, by the teacher
Reading, by a pupil
Current events, by a pupil
Essay, by a pupil
Song, led by the school choir
Reading, by a pupil
Reading, by a pupil
Cornet solo, by a citizen
Social half hour
82 The Community Centef
Note that this first program was rendered almost
wholly by the pupils. The teacher took occasion to speak
of the work of the school and to show some of the possi-
bilities of such meetings. The people enjoyed this pro-
gram and expressed a desire for another meeting soon.
The next program at this schoolhouse was primarily for
the older folks. It was entitled " Ye Old Time School
Days." These older citizens took great delight in relat-
ing the school experiences of their day, and the children
were interested listeners. As time went on, the weekly
community center meeting was becoming more and more
a feature of the regular community activities — in fact,
the only cooperative activity of the community. In due
time, when some social capital had been developed, these
meetings occasionally took the form of discussions of
problems of a constructive nature. The people discussed
such subjects as :
Should West Virginia have a more effective compulsory attend-
ance law ?
Should there be a small tax on oil and gas for the support of
schools and roads?
Is it more profitable to grow hogs than to grow cattle in this com-
Do boys and girls have better opportunities in the city than in
But entertainment and discussion alone will not hold
the interest of a community indefinitely. A definite
purpose common to all must become the reason for this
coming together. Fortunately, the community under dis-
cussion soon passed through the stages of entertainment
and discussion to a state of action. The people them-
selves, under the leadership of their supervisor and teach-
ers, began to look about them for something which they
might do towards personal and community improvement.
Social Capital — Its Development and Use 83
The social capital developed by means of the community
center meetings was about to pay dividends.
Agricultural Fair and School Exhibit. The first big
meeting of the year was the agricultural fair and school
exhibit, which brought together the people of the whole
school district. The local community center meetings
gave the supervisor and the teachers an opportunity to
explain the purpose and the plans of this undertaking.
In October, two months after the opening of the schools,
this fair and exhibit was held at the most central school-
house in the district. The people came in large numbers.
They brought baskets of food and had a community
" spread." Prizes were awarded for the best products
of the farm and the kitchen and for the best work exhibited
by the schools. It was a great day to every one present.
It was the " pooling " of social capital developed in the
local community centers, the first meeting of the people
of the whole district.
Community History. At each school the pupils of
the classes in United States and state history wrote a
history of their local community — who the first settlers
were and when they came; when the first church was
built and when any others were built; when and where
the first schoolhouse was built and what important changes
had been made in the schools since then ; who had first
introduced improved live stock, the silo, and farm machin-
ery, and other items of local historical interest. This
work had been done under the direction of the teachers.
When the histories had been prepared, the children of
each school gave a program entitled " History Evening,"
at which the community history was read by the pupils
who had written it. This proved to be a very popular
program^ since many of the citizens or their ancestors
84 The Community Center
were personally mentioned. It had a marked effect
upon the pride of the people in their home community.
After these programs had been rendered, the several
histories of the local communities were compiled into a
history of the whole school district.
School Attendance. It will be recalled that one object
of the community survey was to determine what chil-
dren were not attending the schools. While visiting the
homes, the teachers were able to interest a good many
absentees in going to school or to persuade their parents
to send them. Subsequent visits by the teachers at the
homes brought most of the children into the schools.
Then, at the community center meetings, the subject
of school attendance was discussed from time to time as
a part of the program. By means of this personal work
of the teachers in the homes and the discussions at the
community meetings, the average daily attendance was
actually increased by fourteen per cent over that of
the preceding year. This increased attendance was
accomplished without resort to the courts in a single
case. The parents came to realize that the schools cost
them the same whether their children attended them
or not. They came also to see more clearly than ever
before what the schools meant to the future welfare of
their children and to the credit of themselves as fathers
and mothers. Be it understood also, that these parents
were not " preached to " about sending their children
to school. They were led into discussions of school at-
tendance among themselves and they arrived at their
Evening Classes. While making the community sur-
veys, the teachers quietly learned also, in such a way as
not to be embarrassing to any one, the number of adult
Social Capital — Its Development and Use 85
illiterates in their communities. From these reports
it was found that there were forty-five adults in the
school district who could not read and write. At the
community center meetings, the supervisor, the teachers,
and the parents came to the conclusion that, to meet
the educational needs of the adult population, evening
classes should be organized for all who would attend
them. Accordingly, announcement was made at the
community centers that at certain centers evening classes
would be offered one night each week in addition to the
regular community center meetings. These centers for
evening classes were so selected that the teachers of
near-by schools could assist the local teacher in this work
— in effect, a consolidation of schools for evening classes.
The plan was eminently successful. The English sub-
jects (reading, writing, spelling), arithmetic, and agri-
culture constituted the course of study, not the usual
textbook study, but just the things that the people were
interested in learning. Nothing was said about illiteracy.
Any who could not read and write joined the English
classes and, with individual instruction, began at the
The evening classes were community center meetings
(a) because they brought together three or four neigh-
borhoods, thus enlarging the circle of acquaintances;
(6) because the demonstration work in the agricultural
subjects attracted a great many who would have come
for no other reason; and (c) because the class exercises
were accompanied by a social half hour and in some cases
followed by refreshments provided by the families
Lecture Course. Closely related to the work of the
evening classes was a free lecture course. The lectures
86 The Community Center
were given at the schoolhouse by the teachers of other
schools in the district and by citizens of the community
who had messages for their neighbors. The subjects
of these lectures dealt with the improvement of agriculture,
roads, schools, sanitation, morals. These lectures drew
upon the United States Bureau of Education, the United
States Department of Agriculture, the State Agricultural
College, the State Department of Schools, and the Public
Health Council for information upon their respective
subjects, and in some instances bulletins containing
information on these subjects were given to the people
to be taken home with them. These lectures were in
reality community center meetings, and no one profited
more from them than the teachers themselves.
National Patriotism. The times called for a revival of
national patriotism among the people. Accordingly,
the central theme of one of the programs at each com-
munity center was national patriotism. A little guid-
ance upon the part of the teachers during this program
led to placing a flag upon every schoolhouse in the dis-
trict. The people purchased the flags, cut and hauled
the flag poles, and observed Flag Day at the schoolhouse
by raising the flags. This demonstration led later to
the placing of a small flag in each schoolroom, with the
result that when " The Star-Spangled Banner " was sung,
every child leaped to his feet and saluted his country's
flag — another factor in community improvement.
School Libraries. Another interesting outgrowth of
the community center work in this district was the raising
of two hundred eighty-two dollars for school libraries.
This amount was raised at suppers, socials, and public
entertainments. Every school in the district now has a
small collection of books approved by the state super-
Social Capital — Its Development and Use 87
intendent of schools. In addition to the books purchased,
the teachers secured a large number of free bulletins
upon agriculture, roads, schools, and other subjects of
interest to the community.
School Athletics. As stated in the first paragraph of
this account, there were in the school district three graded
and twelve one-teacher schools. The three graded schools
were made athletic centers, and to each were assigned four
one-teacher schools. At each of these three centers a
baseball team was organized, the players being chosen
from among the pupils of the graded school and its allied
one-teacher schools. These three athletic centers were
then organized into a district school baseball league.
One who did not get information at first hand by observa-
tion could scarcely conceive the benefits derived from the
baseball contests. The baseball games were almost
the only source of outdoor amusement provided the
people of the district. Rivalry among these three athletic
centers was keen but wholesome. The activities of the
baseball league were a strong factor in the development
of community social capital. A good many boys who
had not been in school for two or three years now enrolled
to play baseball. But in his report of these baseball
contests, the supervisor says : " They (these older boys)
stayed in school not only to the end of the baseball season ;
they got a taste of books and have been regular in attend-
ance to the end of the year. Some who had not been in
school for over two years won their free school diplomas
this year and are planning to go to high school next year."
Good Roads. In two or three places I have made
mention of roads. The subject of improved roads was
discussed at each of the community centers. Waste of
time and money occasioned by the bad condition of the
88 The Community Center
roads of that district, together with the cost of improving
them, was determined at these meetings. The crowning
event of this notable year's work was the voting of bonds
in the sum of two hundred fifty thousand dollars to im-
prove the roads — a very large dividend paid on the social
capital developed during the year.
3. THE SOCIAL BUSINESS GROWS
Capital Stock Increased — Extra Dividends. Note
that the foregoing is a statement of the organization of
this social corporation and its first year's activities. Just
as any successful business corporation grows from year
to year, so did the social corporation of Church District.
In the second year of its organization, this corporation,
through its agents, the teachers, made another community
survey (an invoice), so that all its members might know
what progress had been made as compared with its social
standing at the beginning. As a result of this, the com-
munity meetings at the several school centers were con-
tinued with increasing interest; a larger and better
agricultural fair and school exhibit was held; through
the greater efforts of the teachers and parents the school
attendance was increased; the evening classes were
better attended than the year before ; the lecture course
was continued with improved quality and larger attend-
ance; the demands of the National Government upon
the schools for assistance in the Liberty Bond and Red
Cross drives so aroused national patriotism in the com-
munity that it made one of the very best records in the
state ; it led the whole state in the Food Pledge Card
Campaign; the community raised $516.17 for school
libraries, adding 2331 volumes; school athletics were
Social Capital — Its Development and Use 89
carried forward with added interest; the public roads,
for the building of which this social corporation had set
aside $250,000 in bonds, were being built. This social
corporation also set aside from its earnings such sums as
were necessary for the repair and painting of buildings,
for building outhouses and for painting and screening
them, for boring water wells where needed, for fencing
school yards, and for the better furnishing and equipping of
all the schools. For their amusement and recreation a
moving picture machine was purchased, which provided
each neighborhood with a moving picture show every
Would it be too fanciful to say that this social corpo-
ration declared the following estimated extra dividends?
In better teaching
In school attendance ....
In better social life
In service of improved highways
In increase of salaries of teachers
While the declaration of extra dividends is only esti-
mated, the narration of what this district community,
or group of neighborhoods, has achieved is actually true.
The district was, of course, fortunate in having in the
district school supervisor a leader of exceptional quali-
ties. He was able to gain the complete cooperation of
the teachers under his supervision, and through them
and through personal contact with the people at the
community meetings, to enlist the loyalty and the cooper-
ation of the whole community. The achievements de-
scribed demonstrate what some of the community center
90 The Community Center
Better Teaching Results. But the greatest benefit
derived from these community center activities is the
one most Hkely to be overlooked, namely, better teaching
in the schools. Here was a group of rural teachers who
came together once a month to discuss with their super-
visor their plans, their successes, and their failures. They
learned from one another, benefited from one another's
mistakes or successes. They were able to work as a
unit, to do team work. Each was ambitious to be as
good as the best teacher in the district. They had been
in the homes of their patrons. They had met the patrons
at the schoolhouse every two weeks and had discussed
with them the work of the school and the needs of the
community. All were genuinely interested not only in
their schools but also in their communities. All this
while the pupils themselves were active in the community
center work, thus receiving training for meeting later in
life situations of a public nature.
1. Select a community that you know and make a list of its social
2. Does the social capital of this community pay satisfactory
dividends in terms of (a) education, (6) recreation, (c) morality,
(d) general community welfare?
3. If not, does this community lack the necessary social machinery ;
or does its social machinery need to be polished, oiled, and directed
by a skillful engineer — the teacher or other community leader?
4. Suppose you are going to teach in this community, and that
on the first Friday night of the term the stockholders of this social
corporation are going to meet at the schoolhouse to devise ways and
means of "putting this concern on its feet." Outline a program
which you as general manager would propose for the consideration
of these stockholders.
THE COMMUNITY CENTER AS AN AID TO
1. IN SECURING COMMUNITY COOPERATION
The School and the Community Have Fallen Apart.
Perhaps the chief cause of the failure commonly attributed
to the rural schools is lack of community cooperation.
Formerly this was not the case. •" The rural school of
the earlier days," says Professor B. M. Davis,^ " con-
sidering the needs of almost pioneer conditions, was
efficient. It was efficient largely because it was closely
linked with the life of the community in most of its in-
terests. The men of the community turned out and to-
gether built the schoolhouse. The teacher was a member
of the neighborhood group, literally living with them,
for he generally spent part of the year in each home.
Young men and women between the ages of sixteen and
twenty-one attended the school. The weekly literary
society and frequent ' spelling-bees ' contributed the
social life of the community with the school as the
center. . . .
" Gradually the rural school has lost its hold upon the
community. One by one the interests which brought
the people and the school together have ceased. Along
with these interests has disappeared much educational
* Agricultural Education
92 The Community Center
efficiency. But traditions which grew up with the little
one-room schoolhouse have persisted/'
Traditions of the Old School Persist To-day. These
traditions do persist, and they must be recognized and
fairly dealt with. We must bear in mind always that
the one-teacher school which our parents and grand-
parents attended was sufficient for their schoolboy and
schoolgirl needs. It is the only school that they know
very much about. Therefore, when the more progressive
leaders of a community propose the consolidation of schools
or some other way of improving this one-teacher school,
those who have not thought much about its inefficiency
are likely to oppose such plans. When the teacher
requests new furniture, more equipment, etc., some of
the people may fail to understand that such things are
really needed. Sometimes, when the teacher undertakes
to teach by modern methods the new subjects that have
been added to the rural school curriculum, a few people
honestly believe that he does not know what he is about ;
that he is wasting his time in trying to teach a lot of use-
less subjects by " new-fangled " methods. They say
they want their children taught " the three R's " as these
subjects were taught to them. In other words, the best
rural schools have moved ahead, while some of the people
have stood still in matters educational. That is the
reason why some normal school graduates go out to
teach rural schools with great enthusiasm, intending
to employ all the new methods, but, finding their plans
stoutly opposed by some of the parents, finally follow the
lines of least resistance and fall back into the old methods
of teaching from textbooks alone.
Under Such Conditions What Shall the Teacher Do?
The teacher may find some hope in the community center.
An Aid to Teaching 93
The reader may have read The Little School Mistress.
If so, he will remember that the little school mistress
undertook to teach a country school according to approved
methods. Some of the parents objected to her " new-
fangled " notions. One cold morning one of the fathers
went to the school intending to tell the teacher just what
he thought of such methods. It will be remembered
how the teacher met him at the door, found him the
best seat by the stove, and then, while he was warming
himself, called his own boy to write his lesson upon the
blackboard. The father, who had complained that this
boy did not know his a-b-c's, was fairly dumfounded to
learn that his son could not only recognize the letters
but could also write whole sentences upon the blackboard.
This father left the school convinced that the community
had the best teacher in the county.
That teacher had found the key to the solution of one
of the most difficult problems in teaching. Most farmers
are " from Missouri." If they have become prejudiced
against the teacher, nine times out of ten they will, upon
making his acquaintance, change their minds. If, for
example, they do not believe the teacher when he reports
the need of better school furniture, they are likely to be
convinced if they can be induced to sit in one of the
dilapidated seats. Or, if the blackboard is merely a
painted wall, let the teacher contrive to get them to use
it. Such experiences will usually help them to recognize
the school's needs. If the community needs a new
schoolhouse, the best way to convince the doubters is
to get them to make a personal examination of the build-
ing that shelters their children. If the consolidation of
schools is proposed, let the people get together at one of
the schoolhouses and discuss the proposition; they may
94 The Community Center
decide against the proposal for the present, but it is a safe
bet that such consolidation would not be effected in most
communities until the people did get together.
The Teacher and the Commimity Must Get Together.
All of which means simply that when it comes to break-
ing down the prejudices and misconceptions which some
of the people in almost any community have about the
teacher's work, about the physical conditions of the
school, and about worthy progressive programs of any
kind, they must first come together so that it may be
made clear to them what is proposed to be done and also
what steps need to be taken to improve the school.
For we must remember that some of these people have
been so isolated from one another, from the school, and
from the developments in education, that they are out of
touch with modem educational practices. They are
thinking all the time of the school which they attended.
Once they become acquainted with one another and begin
to cooperate with the teacher in community center activi-
ties, they will be prepared to cooperate with him in the
real activities of the school.
How Some Teachers Have Secured Community Co-
operation. Some time ago the writer sent a questionnaire
to a hundred or more teachers who had been active in
community center work. He takes the liberty of quoting
from some of the replies, showing what these teachers
"All of the parents were present at one of the meetings except
three, who were detained by sickness. These meetings have created
a stronger and better school sentiment, better cooperation between
parents and teacher."
"I secured the hearty cooperation of the community, and the
meetings caused them to talk school, education, and progress. The
An Aid to Teaching 95
meetings have brought the people together educationally and so-
cially. I have accomplished much more this year than I did three
years ago when I taught the same school."
"The neighborhood is divided regarding religion. There are
two churches and so much dissension among the members of each
that it was very hard to harmonize all the forces. I think the com-
munity meetings helped considerably."
"The meetings seemed to make every one more interested in the
education of their children. They brought the parents into closer
contact with the schools than ever before, and have enabled me to
get along better with my school by understanding the people better."
"This is a very large school. Last year there were two teachers.
One had to leave and the other had two trials (in court). When I
came here I saw at once that the main trouble was lack of public
sentiment. First I visited all the parents. Then I organized a
literary society. Pretty soon we had a box-supper and raised $40.95,
which we used to purchase seventy-nine books for the library, two
dozen drinking cups (for which the boys made a cabinet), a globe,
and five framed pictures. The patrons are now asking for another
box-supper to buy an organ for the school. I attribute my success
to the personal visits and to these meetings."
"The best cooperation I ever had. This was made very simple
by first arousing an interest in spelling. We did not have a dissent-
ing vote at this precinct in the high school election, 204 votes being
cast. Our best social center meeting was our celebration of the vic-
tory of establishing a district high school. I expect to use the social
center next year to improve the use of the mother tongue in the
"There is now a strong sentiment for better schools in Sheridan
district. The people want a high school. My impressions are and
have been for some years that we must reach the parents by some
means, and I believe this social center movement is almost the only
avenue of approach that we have."
"There are three schools on Campbell's Run that can work to-
gether nicely. The first meeting was a meeting of the three schools
at a central point, at which the pupils engaged in different games,
96 The Community Center
Buch as foot races, jumping, tug-of-war, and baseball. There is now
strong talk of consolidating these three schools. My school consists
of only eight scholars."
"I notice that some old grudges and feuds have given way to
friendship and social intercourse. The people are able to get together
and exchange ideas about the practical pursuits of life."
The experience of these teachers may help to convince
other teachers that it is possible to secure the cooperation
of parents if the teacher will exercise good judgment and
tact in dealing with them.
2. m SECURING BETTER SCHOOL ATTENDANCE
School Attendance a Perennial Problem. The problem
of school attendance is common to all kinds of schools.
Most of the states now have laws undertaking to compel
attendance of all children up to a given age. These laws
are enforced with varying degi-ees of success. They are
no doubt a necessary evil. Still, every teacher knows
how difficult it is to get children to do school work, if
they attend school only because they are compelled by
law. The teacher can keep a pupil in school, but he may
have great difficulty in making him work. For, when it
comes to compulsion of attendance, the teacher has not
only the boy to deal with but, in many cases, the parents
But Teachers Can Solve the Attendance Problem.
Although we are not dealing primarily with the question
of school attendance, this problem/ has a very close rela-
tion to the community center movement. For that
reason, we venture to state that legal compulsory attend-
ance is the laziest possible method that can be employed
to keep children in school ; and that, if he is willing to
An Aid to Teaching 97
make the necessary effort, the teacher can take care of
at least ninety per cent of all truancies. Among the best
means that can be employed are included the attractive-
ness of good teaching, humane treatment of the children,
and skill in dealing with their parents, none of which would
properly fall into this discussion.
Legal and Moral Contracts of Teachers. When a
teacher contracts to teach a school he makes both a legal
and a moral contract. His legal contract requires that
he teach a stated or implied number of hours for so many
days and that he maintain proper discipline in his school.
His moral contract requires in addition that, if possible,
he bring under his instruction and influence the boys and
the girls, who, without his personal efforts, would not
How to Fulfill the Moral Contract. The teacher can do
that (1) by visiting the homes of the children, talking with
them and their parents, encouraging, persuading; and
(2) by leading the parents at the community center
meetings into discussions of the value of education to
the future welfare of the children and through them to
the future welfare of the community. If the teacher
can win the good will and the confidence of the children,
and at the same time obtain the intelligent cooperation
of their parents, he will be able to get the children into the
school, and, by skillfully handling them, to keep them there.
How Some Teachers Have Improved School Attend-
ance. Upon this point we wish to offer a few testimonials
from teachers who have succeeded in accomplishing this
very purpose :
" These meetings had a decided result upon the attendance. Ten
pupils were neither absent nor tardy during the whole term. Patrons
have shown their willingness to aid in every way they could."
98 The Community Center
"These meetings improved school sentiment wonderfully. They
caused the patrons to send their children to school more regularly.
Out of an enrollment of thirty-two pupils, sixteen were neither absent
nor tardy. Some of the pupils had to come two and one-half miles
over rough roads."
"These meetings have improved attendance, minimized tardiness,
and stimulated the pupils to greater efforts."
" The boys and girls who have been in the habit of leaving school
before the term closed attended regularly this year."
"Our average attendance was forty-four for the entire term.
Heretofore, they tell me, it was only fifteen to twenty. Our enroll-
ment was sixty-four, the oldest scholar being thirty-six years of age.
Four young men and women who had been out of school three or four
years attended regularly and did excellent work. Twenty-four
children got perfect attendance certificates. The people are petition-
ing the board of education to build them a two-room school for next
"My success this winter is due largely to the community center
meetings. I never was in a school before where I was able to hold
the interest of the children until the last day of the term. Interest
did not prevail among the children alone, but reached also to the
entire sub-district. One patron remarked on the last day of the term
that it was the first school he had ever been interested in."
These enthusiastic statements from teachers who had
the courage to test the efficacy of the community center
movement ought to suggest to other teachers, similarly
situated, a way to help solve the school attendance
3. IN ITS EFFECTS UPON THE REGULAR SCHOOL WORK
Lack of Incentives in Rural Schools. The preparation
and the recitation of lessons, and nothing else, make
pretty dull work for children. This is especially true
with country children where this work is oftentimes un-
An Aid to Teaching 99
necessarily confined largely to textbooks; where the
teacher has very little time to give individual instruction ;
and where little opportunity is offered for play and
recreation. In city schools children work together and
play together in rather large groups. But in country
schools we seldom find over four or five children in a class,
and many a boy in the upper grades is the whole class
himself, having to answer all the questions. When it
is recess or noon, these older children are so few in num-
ber that they cannot even organize a game. Is it any
wonder, then, that they drop out of school at their first
opportjmity ; or, that they look upon their school work
as something merely to be tolerated?
Parents' Attendance at Community Meetings an
Encouragement to Children. The presence of the parents
at the community meetings is encouraging to the pupils.
They feel then that the school really amounts to some-
thing. Let a few successful teachers bear witness to this
"These meetings encourage pupils to do better work, prove to
the pupils that the parents are interested in their work, and help
to hold the interest of the pupils in their studies."
"These meetings and debates have caused many of the pupils
to read the library books in search of material for debates and in-
formation, and seemingly create a greater interest in all school work."
"The interest the parents have shown in these meetings helps
not only with the work of these meetings, but also creates a greater
interest among the pupils in their regular school work."
"These meetings are essential to good school work, for without
them it is hard for the teacher, the parents, and the pupils to work
in harmony. They promote interest and the right kind of school
100 The Community Center
"Our best meeting was a 'spelling-bee.' It was intensely inter-
esting to see the parents pitted against the children, to see how they
struggled for mastery. But several of the parents, some forty or
fifty years of age, showed the rising generation that they could
spell in the new book much better than the boys and girls who are
now studying it."
"I feel sure that these meetings exerted a most wholesome influ-
ence on the school and its work."
Teachers who have successfully conducted literary-
exercises on Friday afternoons, whether the parents were
present or not, will remember how glad children are when
Friday afternoon comes and how eagerly they perform
their parts of the program. Some teachers have even
offered such exercises as a reward for good behavior and
faithful work during the other four and a half days of the
week. These exercises, whether in the afternoon or
evening, furnish about the only recreation the children
have. If they are held in connection with, or as a part
of, the school, the children get the idea that the school
itself is a bit more interesting than it otherwise would be ;
and when their parents join them in giving the program,
the children get some satisfaction in feeling that they are
engaged in an enterprise in which the whole community
The Only Training Children Have for Public Speaking.
Furthermore, we should remember that about ninety-five
per cent of these country children will quit school either
upon completion of the elementary grades, or before that
time ; that training in appearing before a public audience
is beneficial to the individual and makes him more help-
ful to the community; and that the literary exercises,
or community meetings, are the only opportunities these
children are going to have to get such training. Most
An Aid to Teaching \\ Ti^dl"
of us will remember the shaking of knees, the trembling
of voice, and the general embarrassment we experienced
when we first appeared before a public audience. The
opportunity to shake off this embarrassment is certainly
as important in our school program as many of the other
things we are required to learn. One boy who had just
gone through this ordeal testifies : "I believe I have
been benefited by the literary exercises more than by
any other one thing. It was very embarrassing at first,
but that soon wore off." We should give every boy and
girl an opportunity to dispel this fear of appearing before
an audience, since at some time in life he or she may be
called upon to speak in public.
4. AS AN AID TO THE TEACHER HIMSELF
Teachers Should Identify Themselves with Their
Communities. Many a teacher has failed either because
he did not know the value of the community center as
an aid to his work or because he was too timid or perhaps
too selfish to undertake it. Once the writer asked a
teacher how she liked her community. " Like it? "
she said. " I care nothing about the community. I am
paid to teach their kids and when I want to have a good
time I go to town.'' This gu*l, of course, was among that
very small number of teachers who fail to take teaching
seriously. We are convinced that the great majority
of our rural teachers are interested in their communities
and are willing to do anything in their power to extend
their influence and help to the whole community.
By Helping Their Communities, Teachers Help Them-
selves. What some teachers do not understand is that
by helping their communities they help themselves as
\^ : y] ' . ; ; The Cemmunity Center
teachers. Suppose, for example, a teacher goes into a
community where he is entirely unknown. Perhaps
the conduct and success of his predecessor have not
been such as to inspire a high regard for teachers. A
pupil is punished for some violation of the rules of the
school and goes home with his report of the same to his
parents. In nine cases out of ten, under such circum-
stances, the parents will believe the child's story. Word
is passed from house to house, the story becoming worse
every time it is told. Pretty soon the whole neighborhood
is actively opposed to this teacher, ready to believe any
report that they may hear about him. On the other
hand, suppose the teacher goes into his community a
few days before the school opens ; that he visits some of
the homes and makes the acquaintance of as many of
the parents as possible ; that as soon as he can, he visits
others; and that very soon he calls them all together
in a community meeting. If he has been able to impress
them favorably and to win their confidence and respect,
he will have fortified himself against any misrepresenta-
tions that may be made. He will also have won the co-
operation of the parents in his efforts at discipline as well
as in teaching.
Such Work Leads to Promotion. Regarding it from
a purely selfish standpoint, the community center work,
since that is a means of assuring his success in teaching,
is one of the surest roads to promotion. If a teacher
succeeds in a difficult school, he is not likely to have any
trouble in securing a more desirable school later. If he
is desirous of teaching in a city or graded school, his
best means of realizing that ambition is to make a notable
record as a country school teacher. For, in order to win
promotion, the teacher must not merely succeed, he must
An Aid to Teaching 103
excel. The writer has in mind a rural teacher who se-
cured an excellent promotion in this way. This young
woman was not, however, ambitious for promotion, either
to another country school or to a city school; she was
very ambitious to teach a good school right there in her
home neighborhood. By means of the community center
she made such a notable record that at the end of the
year she was invited to assume the larger duties of county
girls' club agent. It is not so hard to teach an excep-
tionally good country school where the whole community
constitutes the school. The teacher who succeeds with
such a school will not have to undergo the humiliation
of " hunting " a school; he will be in demand.
Another point worthy of consideration in this connec-
tion is the teacher's own need of associations in the com-
munity. It is not only the parents and the children of
the country who need recreation and social intercourse,
but the country teacher also. By means of the com-
munity center he will have the pleasure of knowing all
the people, of enjoying their fellowship, and of becoming
identified with the community. And while he is inter-
esting the people in community improvements and in all
the other activities of the community center, he is at the
same time providing interests for himself. The natural
conclusion to draw, then, is that even from a purely selfish
point of view, if there be no higher motive, the teacher owes
it to himself to make the best possible use of the commu-
1. Professor B. M. Davis refers to traditions that have grown
up with the little one-room schoolhouse. Make two lists of such
traditions, one containing those which may be fostered, and one
containing those which ought to be corrected.
104 The Community Center
2. Suppose you are teaching in a community where the patrons
desire a school such as theirs was and where they disapprove of
innovations in methods of teaching and of school government. Out-
line in detail the method which you would follow in overcoming that
3. Both as regards the children and the community, contrast the
moral effects of school attendance as secured by legal compulsion
and by other approved methods.
4. Enumerate the good effects you would expect the community
center to have upon the work of your school (a) in its immediate
results and (6) in its results upon the lives of the pupils when they
5. How could you recommend the community center from a selfish
standpoint? Would such motive justify itself?
FIRST STEPS IN THE COMMUNITY CENTER
1. PREPARATORY STEPS
Caution about Organization. A word of caution in
regard to organization has already been offered in another
connection.^ Mention is again made of it because, in plan-
ning for the beginning of community center work, the or-
ganization is the first thing that is usually thought of.
We may safely say that if the people of a community
have been accustomed to work together under organized
machinery, then a mild form of organization may well
be made immediately — consisting, say, of a chairman
and a secretary. Even then the constitution and by-laws
may be left entirely alone. A meeting of country people
at their schoolhouse needs no such encumbrances. They
come together to see one another and to enjoy the exer-
cises of the program. They will not go far wrong in
conducting themselves when they make a motion, address
the chairman, or perform their parts on the program.
They will do much better and have a much pleasanter
time if left free to follow the dictates of common sense
and the example of others.
The Teacher May Assume Leadership. When the
people are assembled for their first meeting, the teacher
will do well simply to call them to order at the proper
time, and assume the chairmanship or leadership. It
would be appropriate for the teacher first to address the
1 Pages 51-53
106 The Community Center
people, extending them welcome, explaining the purpose
of the meeting and of succeeding meetings, and expressing
his desire for their hearty cooperation. Then he may
proceed with the previously arranged program. Before
dismissing the meeting, the teacher may consult the
people as to their wishes for another meeting and announce
the time agreed upon. The program may be followed by
a social half hour.
As to the wisdom of avoiding a formal organization
at first, the teacher assuming the leadership, we have
very strong convictions. In this opinion we find Mr.
W. E. Larson, State Supervisor of Rural Schools of Wis-
consin, in full sympathy. In a personal letter Mr. Lar-
son says :
It is unwise in many localities to push the matter of organization
too early. Many people are not ready for organized effort and it
takes time to bring this about. Meanwhile the teacher continues
to have meetings from time to time in the schoolhouse, at which the
children give the larger part of the program.
In her article ^ already referred to. Miss Margaret
Woodrow Wilson expresses the same idea, with reference
to the community center for the city, as follows :
It remains to speak of the keystone of the structure of community
center organization — that is, the community secretary. The ideal
community secretary is the superintendent or principal of the school
or his representative. His function is to direct and coordinate, and
he becomes thereby not merely the master of the children intrusted
to him for educational purposes, but also the servant of the people
who support him in his position of authority over the children.
Now in the one-teacher country school, the teacher is
superintendent, principal, assistant, attendance officer,
nurse, and sometimes janitor. He is the whole organiza-
* " Getting Together," Ladies* Home Journal, December, 1917
First Steps in the Community Center 107
tion. There is every reason why he should assume leader-
ship of his community. If for no other reason, he should
do so for self -protection, since he is responsible for mak-
ing the community center a success. He must take the
initiative in this matter, since the people themselves
oftentimes fail to understand the importance of choosing
the ablest leader.
Teach a Good School. The reader may wonder why
we make the teaching of a good school one of the first
steps in the rural community center. We do so because
we wish to emphasize this very essential element. A
teacher's ability to organize his school is the best index
of his ability to organize his community and to assume
its leadership for community cooperation. If he can win
his pupils from the very first day, he will have their con-
fidence and their unfailing loyalty. He will at the same
time have done a very great deal towards winning the
parents as well. For very soon an impression — favorable
or unfavorable — goes out among the homes ; and an un-
favorable impression is very hard to live down. On
the other hand, a good impression m^y carry a teacher
over many a trying experience. If the people of his
community get the impression that he is a good teacher
and that he is among them not for salary alone but also
to help them in every possible way, they will most cer-
tainly give him their loyal support and cooperation. One
of the first steps, therefore, that a teacher must take in
organizing his community' is to organize and conduct
his school so as to place himself in a favorable light with
the people among whom he expects to work out community
Make a Survey of the Community. We do not mean
that the teacher should attempt to make a scientific
108 The Community Center
survey of his community — certainly not immediately —
but that he should take stock of its social, moral, and
intellectual resources. He should know, for example,
what organizations already exist, if any, their purpose
and success, and their leaders. He should know the
attitude of the people towards the school and towards
the general progress of community life. He should know
also in a general way the nature of any factions, quarrels,
or feuds, so that he may regulate his conduct with refer-
ence to them. He will, of course, learn all of these facts
incidentally, without revealing his motives. The third
step in building up the rural community center is, then,
to acquire as much knowledge as possible of the com-
munity — its aspirations, its advantages and disadvan-
tages, and its past experiences.
See the Leaders. After the teacher has assumed com-
munity leadership, has begun to teach a good school,
and has made a general survey, he should then, if not
meanwhile, see those who are generally recognized as
community leaders, — for example, the ministers, the
editors, the heads of any existing organizations, and other
prominent citizens, — so that he may acquaint them with
his plans and enlist their cooperation. The test of his
strength as well as the measure of his success will depend
upon his ability to unite all the forces of leadership and
talent in the community upon such plans as he and they,
working together, may make and attempt to carry out.
Of course, if he is teaching in a community where there
are no recognized leaders, his task will be all the greater,
for he will have to set about developing leaders. How-
ever, it has been our observation that a community can
scarcely be found that does not have some generally
First Steps in the Community Center 109
Get Acquainted with the People. After soliciting the
cooperation of the leaders, the teacher's next step is to
make the acquaintance of the other members of the
community. The fact that he is the teacher makes an
introduction unnecessary. As soon as possible he should
call upon the parents in their homes. By doing so he
will win many loyal helpers to his cause. Every teacher
should, we think, attend the church of his choice and be-
come a member of, or still better, a teacher in, the Sunday
School. If there is no Sunday School, then he may be
able to organize one. The church and Sunday School
are excellent places to meet the parents. We have a
strong conviction that many teachers fail, even as teach-
ers, because they make no effort to become acquainted
with the parents. Unless one can enter into the lives of
the people and, for the time being at least, become a mem-
ber of the community, he cannot hope even to teach a
good school; most certainly he cannot hope to organize
the people for commimity center work.
2. MAKING A BEGINNING
The First Meeting. Making a beginning is perhaps the
greatest difficulty to overcome. This is especially true
of an inexperienced teacher. The difficulty consists very
largely in getting the consent of one's own mind to under-
take the work, on account of misgivings as to whether the
people will respond to the call.
In the average rural community, however, it is a mis-
take to suppose that the people will not come out to these
meetings, if properly approached; for many teachers
have demonstrated the fact that they will come. But
the teacher must make the first move*
110 The Community Center
Getting the People Out. If the teacher has been suc-
cessful in making friends with the parents, he will be in a
position to extend to them strong personal invitations.
In these days it is possible, even in the country districts,
to extend personal invitations by telephone. Next to
the teacher's own personal invitations, the pupils will
prove to be the best advertisers. It is an excellent plan
to have the pupils prepare written invitations to their
parents and friends and deliver these in person. These
invitations afford an excellent opportunity to do some
practical teaching in the art of letter writing, and may be
prepared during the regular language study period.
In many places it will be possible to have the program,
or at least a notice of the meeting, printed in the news-
papers. It is a good plan, also, to have the pupils pre-
pare a write-up of the meeting as a class exercise in Eng-
lish composition and then furnish the newspapers with
the material. The privilege of preparing these reports
may be offered as a reward for faithfulness and excellence
in regular class work. It is well, also, to have the pupils
print by hand a few notices to be posted in conspicuous
places. It is amazing to note the enthusiasm children
have in performing such tasks; and their enthusiasm
breeds a similar enthusiasm in their parents.
The Program. The teacher should exercise his very
best judgment in arranging the first program. It is best
not to attempt too much at first. If the community
has not been accustomed to such exercises, it would prob-
ably be advisable to have the children render a short
program to be followed by a social hour. It is an excel-
lent plan to have the pupils repeat some of the dramatiza-
tions which they have already worked out in connection
with their reading classes.
First Steps in the Community Center 111
Begin with the Past Social Experiences of the Com-
munity. It is a good principle in pedagogy to begin
with the previous experiences of the learner and proceed
from the known to the related unknown. The same
principle is remarkably applicable to rural community
center work. We are convinced that a great many teach-
ers have failed with the community meetings just at this
point. The phrase " community center " is itself foreign
to the vocabulary of the average country person. For
this reason it may be advisable to speak of the proposed
meeting as " a school literary," ** spelling-bee," or "de-
bate " ; for then the people will understand it. It is
very important that, in announcing the meeting and in
the conduct of the same, the teacher use such phrases
and plan such activities as will fall easily into the pre-
vious experiences of the people. If the spelling-bee was
once popular in that community, let the first program
be an old-time spelling match, and call it that. Or,
perhaps the people like to debate. If so, begin with a
debate, filling in with readings, music, social games, etc.
The aim of this first program should be to afford the great-
est possible enjoyment with the least possible embarrass-
ment. The people should feel that they have had a good
time and that by all means they must have other meetings.
Be a Good Host. Of course, the enjoyment of the
meeting will depend very largely upon the teacher's skill
as host. If he is a good host, he will be able to make the
guests feel as much at ease at his school as they would
in his home. He is, therefore, responsible for their enter-
tainment. But he may best entertain by providing
the means whereby the people may entertain themselves.
That should be his guiding thought in arranging this
112 The Community Center
Be Patient. It has been suggested (1) that the
teacher should ordinarily avoid formal organization and
assume the leadership of his community at its first meet-
ing ; (2) that he should do his best to teach a good school
from the very first day ; (3) that he should take stock of
his community ; (4) that he should interest the commu-
nity leaders in his plans ; (5) that he should make the
acquaintance of as many of the parents as possible ; (6)
that he should make his first meeting satisfying to the
people; and (7) that he should make his first program
fit into the previous experiences of the community.
Finally, it may be necessary to exercise great patience
in dealing with the patrons in these meetings. Perhaps
not so many came as were expected; then the teacher
will need to see the others before the next meeting, tell
them how badly they are needed, and ask them to come
next time. Maybe the program did not meet expecta-
tions ; then this experience will be the teacher's guide in
making up the next program. Everything cannot be
accomplished all at once. The element of time is very
important and must be reckoned with. If disappoint-
ments come, they should be disregarded except in so far
as the experience gained thereby helps toward future
successes. The main thing is for the teacher to be
patient and keep moving forward, leading the parents
with him. He will be able in time greatly to enrich their
lives and to help them discover new interests and acquire
new and higher aspirations.
How One Teacher Began and What She Accomplished.
We have in mind one teacher who succeeded admirably
with the community center by following out the sugges-
tions which have just been made. Hers was the average
rural community. She had no superior advantages of
First Steps in the Community Center 113
training or experience; but she had a strong determina-
tion to succeed. Her first program was " Ye Old-Time
School Days," which, by the way, is a very good one
for a beginning. She had been a good advertiser,
the children being her best means for this purpose. She
had seen personally a great many of the older people in
her community, because this program appealed partic-
ularly to them. Indeed, she managed to have this whole
program with one exception given by persons fifty years
of age or over. It was as follows :
1. Songs — all singing familiar songs
2. Devotion, led by local minister
3. "The Kind of School I Had," by a man sixty years old
4. "How We Kept Warm," by a man eighty years old
5. "What We Got When We Were Bad Boys and Girls," by a
6. "The Kind of Teacher I Had," by a citizen
7. "What I Learned When I Was a Boy," by a citizen
8. "Why I Would Rather Be a Boy To-day," by a seventh-grade
9. Songs, followed by social half hour.
These folks had such a good time relating their early
experiences and the children enjoyed their stories so much
that there was no question as to whether they should
have other meetings; they demanded other meetings.
The next time they came together the teacher very skill-
fully called attention to the fact that the school had no
library and no pictures on the walls, and suggested that
they might have a box-supper to raise money for their
purchase. All were agreed. In two weeks they had the
box-supper and raised over fifty dollars. We cannot
relate the whole story, but by the end of the term this
community had purchased six approved pictures, which
114 The Community Center
the teacher and pupils framed; had provided a library
of one hundred volumes; had painted the inside walls
of the schoolroom ; had furnished curtains for the win-
dows ; and had installed lights for the evening meetings.
The effects upon the school and upon the community
itself can easily be inferred.
1. Think of a community that you know and decide whether
an organization should be effected for community center work.
Describe the conditions which led to your decision.
2. Criticize the author's suggestions under "Preparatory Steps."
How can you improve upon these suggestions with reference to the
community considered under exercise 1?
3. What should be the attitude of the community center towards
4. Prepare a program for a first meeting of a community center
in a community which you know. Explain why you prepare this
program in the form you have chosen.
5. Enumerate the things that you would do at this first meeting
to make the people desire other meetings.
6. Does your program aim to entertain the people or does it
provide the means whereby they may entertain themselves?
SPECIAL SCHOOL PROGRAMS
1. DAY PROGRAMS
Popularity of Evening Exercises. In the discussion
of the community center thus far, we have had in mind
mainly evening programs made up of activities entirely
outside of the school work. In most small communities
these evening exercises will prove to be the more popular,
as their busy lives make it difficult for farmers and their
wives to attend any kind of day meetings.
Advantages of Day Meetings. In several states these
community meetings are held at the schoolhouse during
school hours, the children, for a time, continuing their
regular class exercises. This plan has the advantage
(1) of acquainting the parents with the work of their
school, (2) of inspiring the children to do better work,
and (3) of stimulating the teachers. Wisconsin has
probably accomplished more than any other state with
the special school programs which include regular school
work. The Wisconsin plan has been so well described
in a bulletin issued by State Superintendent C. P. Gary
that we reproduce some of the outlines and suggestions
as follows :
2. THE WISCONSIN PLAN^
Reading. A ten- to fifteen-minute exercise with a
reading class well prepared is an entertaining feature.
1 Gary, C. P. : Social and Civic Work in Country Communities,
1913. Section 2 of this chapter is reproduced from the foregoing
bulletin by permission.
116 The Community Center
The teacher may tell the class some time before the pro-
gram is to be held (from two to four weeks perhaps)
that each pupil will read one of the lessons between pages
and (including from 20 to 40 pages). The result
will be that the children will do their best to master
these pages and will be able to read with expression. In
this way the preparation for the special program is really
an incentive to do the best possible work in the regu-
lar reading class.
Occasionally the teacher may use reading material
outside of the regular textbook. Suitable selections from
library books containing stories, descriptions, etc., can
be used with good results.
An exercise may be given with the primary reading
class (beginners). Sentences may be written on the
blackboard and the children may act them out. Word,
phrase, phonic, and sentence drills may be given.
Certain conversational selections in the reading books
may be rendered in a very entertaining way by having
different children " take parts " and one child read the
narrative parts of the story. When trained in this
way, the children become alert and the practice does
much to improve the expression of the children in their
Too much of this work should not be put on any one
program. One reading exercise is usually enough.
Language. A part of the regular language work of the
school is to memorize certain selections. These may be
recited as part of the school program.
All through the course there should be story-telling.
These stories which they tell in the regular classes may be
told in the special programs. In selecting stories for the
primary children especially, care should be exercised not
special School Programs 117
to make selections that would in any way cause offense.
There are so many good stories to tell that there is no need
of bringing in any that might be questionable in certain
A part of the language work consists of a dramatiza-
tion of stories. When these are well learned, they may be
used as dialogues and thus bring about a good and easy
expression on the part of the pupils. When stories are
dramatized in this way, it is well to have some child tell
the story first, as some of the people in the audience may
not be familiar with it.
The children read books from the library. Some of
these books are very interesting and pupils delight in
telling about them. A child may be placed on the pro-
gram to tell about a book that he has enjoyed.
The larger pupils especially may be placed on the pro-
gram to tell about certain things they have studied in
school. Topics from history, geography, or agriculture
are suitable for these talks.
A roll call to which the children respond by giving mem-
ory gems, quotations, etc., is a usable feature.
Some of the most interesting compositions written by
the pupils in school may be read.
Arithmetic. A blackboard exercise may be given in
which the children show their skill in handling a certain
class of problems. These problems should not be compli-
cated and should be of such a nature that the children
can readily perform the operations.
Exercises in the writing of numbers, in adding, sub-
tracting, multiplying, and dividing, in simple fractions
and decimals are suitable for this kind of work. Not
more than ten minutes should be used for any one exercise.
The children should be carefully drilled beforehand so
118 The Community Center
that no time is wasted in going to and from the board,
in erasing, etc.
An exercise in mental arithmetic is especially valuable.
In this work, care should be taken not to make the prob-
lems too difficult for the pupils. The work should be
carried on briskly.
A few minutes' drill for the younger ones makes an
In this work special effort should be made to have work
that can easily be understood by all of the people present.
If this work is properly conducted, the teacher can
incidentally interest the non-attending boys and girls of
the community in the work of the school by taking up
some certain line of work such as hay problems, land
problems, etc., and showing what the children who are
attending school are doing.
Spelling. A ten-minute exercise with a group of
children makes an interesting feature on the school pro-
gram. The teacher may announce to the children a
month before the program is to be given that a certain
group will spell for ten minutes. The words that will be
used in this exercise may be designated so that the children
may master this list. These children will then make
the best effort possible to remain standing during the ten
minutes. In this list should be included words from the
other subjects, which they need to learn.
A blackboard exercise in spelling may also be con-
ducted, using a list which the children have had a chance
Music. Every school has some singing. The songs
that the children learn to sing in their regular school work
may be put on the special school program. The sugges-
tion is made that the songs which the children learn to
special School Programs 119
sing should be appropriate to childhood, or they should
be songs which are worth knowing. The teaching of
many of the popular songs, which in some sections is getting
to be common, should rather be discouraged.
Demonstration Work. Whenever a child has learned
to do something successfully, he can be placed on the
program to do that work. A knot-tying contest may be
an interesting feature if the children have become success-
ful in the tying of the various kinds of knots.
Teachers who have done any work of this kind will
be able to adapt some of this work to the special program.
Too many presentations, however, should not be given
on any one program.
Current Events. In many schools the teachers are
asking their children to report important events and to
give short talks on them. Some of the larger children
in school may be placed on the program in this way.
Topics of civic, geographical, historical, biographical,
or hygienic interest may be presented.
Gymnastic Drills and Games. It frequently happens
that the children cannot play outside. During recess
the teacher can profitably spend the time by giving the
children a few simple drills. These drills can then be
presented at the special school programs. When well
learned, they have great value and are an entertaining
Exhibits of Written Work. It may add to the interest
of the people in the school to have exhibited on the walls
of the schoolroom some of the work of the pupils. If
there is sufficient room, it is well to ask the parents to
take a little time for inspecting this work. It is un-
necessary to mention here what these exhibits might
120 The Community Center
Programs May Contain Talks on School Work by
Outsiders. When the people are gathered together in
the schoolroom to listen to the children and to see the
work done by the school, it is well to have some adult
give a short talk on some phase of school work. It is
always well for the teacher to speak to the parents and
call their attention to certain matters pertaining to the
common interest of the home and school. Occasionally
the county superintendent or some other educational
leader may be secured who can address the parents.
These talks as a rule should be short and to the point.
The speaker should remember that he has a mixed audi-
ence and should try to say something that is both interest-
ing and instructive. An occasion of this kind should
not be treated lightly, and the person who speaks should
not feel that he is there simply to "fill in time." In
all these talks there should be an optimistic spirit, although
it may be necessary at times to criticize certain tendencies
on the part of the children and parents. The speaker
should endeavor to awaken in the parents a desire to
give their children the best possible development. In
some communities, where many of the people are unable
to understand the English language, a short talk may be
given in a foreign language.
Programs for Special Occasions. The foregoing sug-
gestions are for the ordinary school programs, — those
programs that may be held at any time during the year.
Occasionally, however, the community desires to have a
program commemorating some special day, such as
Memorial Day, Washington's Birthday, etc. On an
occasion of this kind the material should, of course, be
suited to the special day, and exercises in arithmetic,
spelling, etc., should be omitted. Much of the program,
Special School Programs 121
however, may be taken from the regular work of the
school. The recitations and stories may be worked into
the regular language classes, special readings may be
taken up in the reading classes, and the songs practiced
by the school.
Visiting Days. In some communities the teachers
have what are known as visiting days. The teachers
and pupils invite the parents to come to the school to
spend the afternoon. Regular school work is carried
on so that the parents may see the work the children are
doing. After the regular work of the school has been
finished, a social hour follows in which the parents and
teachers become acquainted.
A Few General Suggestions. Whenever a program
is given in which the children take part for the purpose of
showing the work of the school, every child should do
something. The teacher should, however, avoid going
to the other extreme of having some pupils on the pro-
gram several times.
Do not have too long or too difficult programs. It is
better to have a short meeting and have every one go
home satisfied than to draw the meeting out and have
The work should be well presented and it should be
worth while. Do not have the children attempt to give
something that is too difficult or too complex for them.
It is better to have something well presented, even if it
is simple and easy.
Plan the programs very carefully. Have a system.
Arrange the program in such a way that there will be the
minimum loss of time between the parts. Seat the
children in such a way that they can render their parts
to the greatest advantage.
122 The Community Center
Where a large number of children take part in the
program, it is well to arrange the program by groups. If
there are thirty or more children to take part, all those
who are in the primary form may be marched up to the
front together to give their songs, recitations, stories,
etc., as one section of the program. This will also aid
those who are timid.
3. PARTICIPATION BY PARENTS IN SPECIAL PROGRAMS
It occurs to us that part of the time assigned to these
special school programs might well be devoted to debates,
spelling-bees, literary exercises, etc., where the parents
would take a prominent part. A debate between a parent
on one side and a schoolboy on the other makes a very
interesting number on a program. A spelling-bee, in
which the opposing teams are chosen in the old-fashioned
way by two " captains," is an exercise in which all can
join. For part of the program social games and physical
contests could be arranged.
Special School Programs May Be Given at Night.
Furthermore, if the parents cannot attend a special
school program during regular school hours, let an occa-
sional evening program be devoted to a regular session
of the school, so that the parents can then inspect the
work of their children.
1. What are the chief advantages of the Wisconsin plan of special-
day programs? Do you detect any disadvantages of that plan?
2. What kind of communities would benefit most by a plan
whereby the regular class work of the school is conducted by the
rej;iilar teachers at an occasional evening gathering?
Special School Programs 123
3. Show how each plan, 1 and 2, is in keeping with the general
principles and policies of the community center.
4. Enumerate the chief advantages of keeping "open house,"
or visiting days. Who is likely to benefit most, the children, the
teacher, or the parents?
5. What effects are visiting days and special-day programs likely
to have upon school discipline? What effect upon the children's
general attitude towards their own work?
MISCELLANEOUS ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE
1. PARENT-TEACHER ASSOCIATIONS
The rural community center may take the form of a
parent-teacher association and group all of its activities
around this organization for the attainment of its pur-
poses; but, in general, the parent-teacher association
will constitute one of the special organizations within
the community center.
In Rural Districts. Heretofore, parent-teacher asso-
ciations have been confined mainly to the cities and larger
towns. With the growth of the community center move-
ment in rural districts, however, there can be no good
reason why the parent-teacher association may not very
soon become an integral and vital part of that movement.
The National Congress of Mothers. In 1897, the
National Congress of Mothers was organized. For the
past twenty-two years, this organization has aimed to
link together the parent-teacher associations of the
country " for conference and united work," and to ex-
tend the work of these associations by the organization
of new associations wherever possible and by the organ-
ization of state congresses of mothers. This national
organization has aimed always to make these associations
coextensive with the school systems of the several states.
Its platform is expressed in its constitution, as follows :
Miscellaneous Activities 125
The objects of this congress shall be to raise the standards of home
life; to give young people opportunities to learn how to care for
children, so that when they assume the duties of parenthood they
may have some conception of the methods which will best develop
the physical, intellectual, and spiritual nature of the child ; to bring
into closer relations the home and the school, that parents and teach-
ers may cooperate intelligently in the education of the child; to
surround the childhood of the whole world with that wise, loving
care in the impressionable years of life that will develop good citi-
zens; to use systematic and earnest effort to this end, through the
formation of parent-teacher associations in every public school and
elsewhere, through the establishment of kindergartens, and in the
distribution of literature which will be of practical use to parents
in the problems of home life ; to secure more adequate laws for the
care of blameless and dependent children ; and to carry the mother-
love and mother-thought into all that concerns childhood.
Child Welfare Magazine. Since its organization, the
Congress of Mothers has steadily increased its educa-
tional program for parents. It has established the Child
Welfare Magazine, which each month publishes one or
more articles suitable for the program of a parent-teacher
association. It has typewritten papers, which are graded
for different needs and which furnish valuable educational
material for any parent-teacher association, thus making
it independent of speakers.
United States Bureau of Education — Home Division.
Closely associated with the National Congress of Mothers
is the Home Education Division of the United States
Bureau of Education. Dr. P. P. Claxton, United States
Commissioner of Education, has said of this division :
It is our intention to issue bulletins and literature, practical in
their character, which will be available to every home. The National
Congress of Mothers and parent-teacher associations have agreed
to assist the Bureau of Education in this work and can supply much
literature not available through this office.
126 The Community Center
Parent-teacher associations, therefore, have available
the combined assistance of the National Congress of
Mothers and the United States ^Bureau of Education.
Free Literature. Most of the bulletins of the United
States Bureau of Education dealing with child welfare
and parent-teacher associations are free. Parent-teacher
associations, mothers' circles, or child-study circles may
receive the literature and other helps of the National
Congress of Mothers by becoming members and paying
ten cents per capita a year. The organization applying
for membership should send a list of the names of officers
and members to the state secretary where there is a
state congress, and a duplicate to the National Secre-
tary, 910 Loan and Trust Building, Washington, D. C.
Even if the organization does not wish to become a
member of the Congress, it may receive many leaflets
and other helps upon application to the National Sec-
A Constitution for Parent-Teacher Associations. It
may be recalled that we have already cautioned against
immediately adopting a constitution and by-laws for the
community center. But as the parent-teacher associa-
tion represents a differentiation of the community center,
a constitution and by-laws may well be formulated.
They may help in the conduct of the business of the
organization and at the same time may provide training
in organizing and directing similar work. The Congress
of Mothers (1914) has published the following suggested
This society shall be called the Parents* Circle (or the Parent-
Teacher Association) of the School.
Miscellaneous Activities 127
Its object shall be to study the welfare of the child in home, school,
and community and create a better mutual understanding between
parents and teachers and their cooperation in all work for the interest
of the children.
Any one interested in the purpose for which the club is organized
is qualified for membership.
The officers of the circle shall be a President, a Vice-President, a
Secretary, and a Treasurer, elected annually at the meeting of
Regular meetings of the circle shall be held on the afternoon
(or evening) of each month. Special meetings by order of .
This constitution may be amended at any annual meeting or by
unanimous consent at any regular meeting when previous notice has
By-laws may be made to meet immediate needs. They
should govern the election of officers, their duties, the
payment of dues, etc.
Appropriate Subjects for Discussion.
The physical care of the child in the home.
The combined responsibility of mothers and teachers.
How can the home help the school ?
Honoring the child's individuality in the home.
How to safeguard American citizenship through the school and
Effect of indiscriminate associations among children.
128 The Community Center
When is a mother a good mother?
How to insure the cooperation of teacher and parents.
How shall the school and the home combine to cultivate in children
habits of reading the right kind of books?
Common diseases of children and how to treat them.
How can parents assist school and health officers in preventing
the spread of contagious diseases ?
Effects of physical environment upon the work of the school.
Who shall impart religious instruction to the children, the Sunday-
School only, or the parents and teachers also?
How to make studying and reading in the home attractive to
How much assistance should parents give their children in the
preparation of their school tasks?
How parents often hinder the work of the school.
The effect of school discipline upon home discipline, and vice
How to relate school work to the industrial activities of the com-
How the home may help to increase school attendance.
What is the greatest need in this community?
Local and General Work. Dr. Charles A. Wagner,
formerly Commissioner of Education of Delaware, classi-
fies the work of parent-teacher associations as local and
general. Among local activities, Dr. Wagner suggests
school attendance, medical inspection of school children,
standardizing schools, school equipment, the school
beautified, school lunches, home gardening, club work,
school meets, school savings banks, consolidation of
schools, school library, holiday celebrations, and school
sanitation; while among general activities he mentions
the school tax problem, state health inspection, teachers'
pensions, instruction in special subjects, school super-
vision, good roads, etc. Any or all of these problems
may be considered by the community center. If the
parent-teacher association be the community center,
Miscellaneous Activities l29
then, of course, it has this whole field of usefulness as its
reason for existence; while, if it be a differentiation of
the community center, it would perhaps do well to con-
sider only those phases of the community's needs which
concern the cooperation of the school and the home, as
its name implies.
Cooperating Agencies. The parent-teacher associa-
tion will, of course, cooperate with the church, the press,
the grange, the farmers' institute, the extension service
of the state college of agriculture, the state board of
agriculture, the county farm agents, the state board of
health and its local organizations, and with such other
agencies as seek to promote its principles.
2. FARMERS' CLUBS
The Grange. The Grange, or Patrons of Husbandry,
is in the nature of a farmers' club. It was organized
in 1867 by Oliver H. Kelley, a native of Boston, who in
1866 was selected by the National Government to make
a toiir of inspection through the devastated South for
the purpose of studying its conditions and resources.
Soon after his return, he and six other interested men for-
mulated the Grange, the purpose of which was twofold :
to advance the cause of education among farmers, and to
create the spirit of peace and brotherhood between the
North and the South. This organization has become
nation-wide. By 1873 the membership had reached a half
million and it is now more than a million. In speaking
of the extent and influence of this organization Dr. Kenyon
L. Butterfield says : ^ "To enumerate the achievements
of the Grange would be to recall the progress of agriculture
1 Chapters in Rural Progress.
130 The Community Center
during the last third of a century." The Grange has
undoubtedly, since its existence, been the deciding influ-
ence in the passage of a great many progressive laws
relating to social, moral, and economic rural life.
Educational and Social Work. But perhaps the edu-
cational and social work of the Grange has been the chief
source of its usefulness. It has revolutionized the social
life of many communities. It is in itself a rural com-
munity center. And where a grange is found, it may
be possible for the school to unite with it in community
center activities ; no other farmers* club, certainly, would
be necessary. But in communities where a subordinate
grange is not found, then a farmer's club will find a place
and a purpose. In fact, the activities which have just
been assigned to the parent-teacher association may be
carried on with equal effectiveness by the farmers' club.
For it should be borne in mind that the general purpose
is always the same, whatever be the name or the methods
of the organization. Of course, the farmers' club usually
devotes the major part of its activities to problems of
agriculture, cooperative marketing and buying, etc. ;
but sociability should be, and naturally will be, a promi-
nent feature of every meeting. And, if properly directed,
a club of this kind would naturally interest itself in such
problems as school improvement, public highways, etc.
The organization of farmers' clubs is now usually pro-
moted and directed by the county and district agricultural
club agents; but these agents can make these clubs
most effective only when in cooperation with the school
and the teacher. The teacher, therefore, should not
fail to seek the help of the national agricultural experts
assigned to duty in his school district. He should seek
also the assistance of his county superintendent and of
Miscellaneous Activities 131
any other persons who may be prepared to help him in
the organization and direction of a farmers' club at his
3. BOYS* AND GIRLS' AGRICULTURAL CLUBS
A School Activity. Agricultural clubs among boys
and girls are usually directed by the United States De-
partment of Agriculture through the extension divisions
of the state colleges of agriculture and through the county
agricultural agents. Yet, in most places, these clubs
are organized at the schools and meetings are held at
the schoolhouses, frequently under the immediate direc-
tion of the teacher. These meetings are a specialized
form of the rural community center, and in many places
they are the community center, the president of the club
being the chairman of the community center meetings.
The agricultural club supplements and enriches the
work of the school. It is the one feature of the school
work that is sure to be alive and active, for it not only
teaches the boys and girls the more fundamental and
practical things about the vocation of agriculture, but
it also furnishes the laboratory work for geography,
arithmetic, and English. The boys' and girls' club work
is a connecting link between the routine work of the
formal/ subjects and the lives of the boys and girls.
Cooperation between Teacher and Agricultural Club
Agent. It is unnecessary, and it would be unwise, to
describe the work and methods of the boys' and girls'
agricultural clubs in detail; for every state now has its
agricultural agents and its agricultural literature. If
there is a county agricultural agent, a teacher should
get into communication with him. The agent will be
132 The Community Center
able and glad to give his personal assistance and to put
into the hands of the teacher such literature as is needful
in organizing agricultural clubs in the schools. The
kinds of clubs for a given community will depend, of
course, upon the kinds of crops produced and the agri-
cultural possibilities of the immediate community.
Among the clubs which have been organized in the United
States are those for the production or promotion of the
following: corn, sorghums, pigs, poultry, tomatoes,
potatoes, gardening and canning, apples, cooking, sewing,
farm and home handicraft, dairy, baby beef, bees, melons,
and others almost without number. Among the activities
of these clubs may be mentioned exhibits, prizes, fairs,
records and reports, com judging and seed-corn testing,
in addition to the production and sale of farm products.
Aim of Agricultural Clubs. — The aim of boys' and
girls' agricultural clubs is, of course, first of all to arouse
in the boys and girls an interest in agriculture and to
give them such technical knowledge of farming and
domestic arts as will enable them to be good farmers
or farmers' wives. Many of our older children are
looking forward eagerly to the time when they may go
away to the cities. Many of them will eventually meet
with discouragement and failure in those cities. We
must find for them in the country the equivalent of their
zeal for the city. Does not the successful agricultural
club partially meet this requirement?
4. PLAY AND ATHLETICS
Need of More Play in Country Communities. Adults,
as well as boys and girls, enjoy almost any kind of play
and athletics. Very few country people play, mainly
Miscellaneous Activities 133
because they do not know how. It is surprising how few
games country boys and girls are acquainted with. The
teacher can very easily teach them games, and then,
when the community gets together for a day meeting,
the older members can easily be taught these plays and
games by the teacher and pupils. Next to singing to-
gether, playing together is certainly one of the very best
ways of uniting a community so as to insure their cooper-
ation with the school in plans for community improve-
ment. It is not necessary to organize athletic teams,
though that may be done with good results. It is better
to find games in which just as many as possible, old and
young, can engage. Nothing is better at first than games
which will provoke a great deal of laughter and enable
the participants to have a lot of genuine fun.
Three-legged Race. This is a game which the spec-
tators will greatly enjoy and which at the same time
requires a great deal of skill and speed. " Fasten a
strap to the inside ankles of two runners, and join these
by a loop strap three inches long. Fasten a similar
strap above the knees, with a connecting loop two inches
long. It is well to have one runner taller than the other,
so that he can get a good hold over his partner's shoulder
around his waist." The contestants should have a great
deal of practice in preparation for this race.
Potato Race. " This is another very interesting event,
but very trying, and hence should not be made too long.
Children should practice a good deal before being allowed
to enter a closely contested meet. For each contestant,
place a basket containing three potatoes at the far end of
a twelve-yard line. Along the line every three yards,
draw a two-foot circle, the first circle being three yards
from the starting line and the third circle being three
134 The Community Center
yards from the basket. A contestant must start from
the starting hne and run to the basket, get one potato
and place it in circle No. 1, or the one farthest from the
basket. He then gets a second potato and places it in
the middle circle, then gets the third potato and places
it in the third circle. He then races to the starting line,
returns, and replaces the potatoes, one at a time, in the
basket, in the order in which they were distributed.
He must go around the basket each time a potato is
replaced in it. He finishes in a dash across the starting
line. In practicing for this race, do not run fast at first.
Go slowly at first, and get firmly in mind just what to do
at each step. Acquire accuracy in getting the potatoes
and in placing them in the circles so they will stay. If
one rolls out, you must return and place it back in the
circle, else you are disqualified."
Tug-of-War. This game is played more in colleges
on especial occasions, perhaps, than anywhere else, but
it is well adapted to country communities if it be properly
directed. To play this game, procure a manila rope
about five inches in circumference; fasten a clamp at
the middle, and about three feet from this clamp toward
either end fasten other clamps to mark the limit to which
any player may approach the middle. There must be
no knots or other obstructions on the rope. When all
is ready, about twelve players on each side pull in opposite
directions. Contestants are not allowed to wrap the
rope around their arms, legs, or bodies, nor may they
wear gloves or shields on their hands, but they may use
adhesive substances on the hands. No weights shall be
worn except in accordance with rules. If the required
distance is not made by either side after five minutes,
a rest of two minutes shall be allowed, and if, after another
Miscellaneous Activities 135
five minutes' pull it has not been made, the award shall
be made to the team having made the farthest pull.
This game will prove to be very popular with the young
men of the community.
These are examples of a large number of games of this
kind which are easy to learn. The teacher should, if
possible, have some good book on plays and games. One
of the very best is Games for the Playground, Home,
School, and Gymnasium by Jessie H. Bancroft, Macmil-
lan Company. Social Plays, Marches, Old Folk Dances
and Rhythmic Movements, for use in Indian Schools,
Government Printing Office, Washington, and The Re-
organized School Playground, Bulletin No. 40, 1913,
United States Bureau of Education, can both be secured
free or at a nominal cost.
6. EVENING SCHOOLS
The Problem of Illiteracy. The fact that among the
young men drafted for military service so many thousands
were unable to read the English language has awakened
renewed interest in evening schools. Some persons
would have us believe that illiteracy in this country is
confined to negroes and foreigners; but a statement of
this kind can hardly be substantiated. The United States
census shows that there are proportionately more illiter-
ates in the country districts than in the cities ; whereas,
we know that, except in some of the southern states,
most of the negroes and foreigners are in the cities. The
fact is that right among our native stock on the farms
there are many thousands who have never gone to school
at all or who have not gone long enough to be able to read
and write. Certainly this is a situation to challenge
136 The Community Center
the high purposes of the rural community center. It is
not difficult to arrange for the instruction of such persons
during part of the evenings when the community meets
at the " center," for, while one of the leaders is engaged
in this work, others may be giving instruction in such sub-
jects as agriculture, farm arithmetic, farm accounting,
English literature, and history. This plan is particularly
feasible where two or more neighboring teachers unite
for community center work, and it has been carried out
successfully in several places. So, let one hour be given
to the evening school work and the rest of the time to
the rendering of a short program or to social enjoyment,
remembering that the sooner the community center
gets started in some kind of constructive work that touches
the lives and the pursuits of the people, the firmer will
be its hold on the attention of the community.
6. ENTERTAINMENT FOR PROFIT
One should guard against any appearance of managing
the community center as a money-making enterprise.
Nothing would be farther from its real purpose. Yet
certain occasions may arise when entertainment for profit
would not be objectionable and when, on the other hand,
it would be in keeping with the temporary purpose of
the community center. For example, if it happens that
public funds are not available for purchasing library
books, maps, globes, window shades and curtains, supple-
mentary readers, and other kinds of school equipment,
and if the community center desires to supply these,
then an entertainment for profit would be a worthy proj-
ect. The teacher will have to be the judge as to whether an
entertainment of this kind would meet with public approval.
Miscellaneous Activities 137
The best way to be assured on that question is to let
the people discuss the proposition and decide for them-
selves. If they are really interested in doing spmething
of that kind, then a few programs, part or all of which are
for profit, will do no harm and may do a great deal of
good. A few of the more common methods of entertain-
ing for profit are suggested in the following paragraphs.
Box-Suppers. In some sections of the country the
box-supper is the best known and one of the most popu-
lar forms of entertainment for profit. Each of the women
and young girls prepares a box of food, or more often of
dainties. These boxes are brought to the meeting with
the names of the owners concealed inside, so that the
purchaser of the box may not know whose box he is buying.
When all is ready, some one is appointed to sell the boxes
to the boys and men. In some places each box is sold
for a fixed price, fifty cents or one dollar. This plan
has apparently not proved to be as successful as the
method of " auctioning " the boxes, knocking them down
to the highest bidder. The latter method will also usually
net more money than the former. Besides, bidding
against one another is part of the fun. We have attended
some of these box-suppers where a box has netted as
much as ten dollars, the purchaser consoling himself,
no doubt, with the feeling that he was contributing to
a worthy cause. We have never attended a meeting
of this kind where there was undue disorder, or where
serious trouble of any kind arose. This sort of meeting
is in the nature of a frolic, of course, but nothing can be
better occasionally for the rural community where there
are so few opportunities for social enjoyment. After
the boxes have all been sold, the purchasers find the
original owners and all sit down to supper.
138 The Community Center
Peanut Socials. Peanut socials and pie suppers are
carried on in the same way. It makes little difference
what one of these affairs is called ; fun and social enjoy-
ment are the indirect objects, and they all amount to
the same thing — a pleasant way of contributing to a public
enterprise. Some time ago the writer attended one of
these affairs undertaken by the school in order to raise
money for the purchase of a victrola. It was called a
peanut social, but there were not many peanuts. Some
of the boxes had fudge in them, some had chocolates,
while others had sandwiches. The sales netted the
school a little over fifty dollars. In a few weeks another
meeting of this kind raised enough more to purchase
the victrola and some records besides. Later, a similar
meeting was held for the purchase of more records. This
was a community victrola, and all could come to the
schoolhouse to enjoy it together.
" Side Shows." It is often profitable to run one or
more " side shows " at one of these money-making enter-
tainments. A very good one is " fortune telling." Let
one of the ladies make up as a gypsy fortune teller and
prepare a booth in one corner of the room as her tent.
A small fee of five or ten cents should be charged each
one who wishes to know his future. This kind of scheme
furnishes a lot of fun and at the same time supplements
to some extent the amounts raised for the school in other
Another very good device is the "fish pond." An
impromptu screen is arranged so as to inclose a fancied
lake or pond. On the inside,"a girl is stationed for the
purpose of placing on a fishing hook small articles or
packages, as the fisherman throws the line over the screen.
A charge of five or ten cents is made to each person who
Miscellaneous Activities 139
buys a chance of catching a " fish/' This scheme also
is capable of furnishing considerable amusement, while
at the same time a good many nickels and dimes are
Unclaimed Parcel Auction. Once each year the express
companies hold an auction sale of unclaimed packages,
the purchasers taking chances on what may be in them.
At one of these sales one may get a very valuable article
for twenty-five cents, or for a much greater sum he may
get an article utterly useless to him. Following this
custom, the children and their parents may contribute
articles for an " auction " — anything from a pound of
coffee to an old hat. A few choice packages should be
offered, however, in order to maintain a keener interest in
the auction sale. These articles should be wrapped so
that the appearance of the packages will not indicate
their contents. Then, at the proper time let the packages
be sold at auction to the highest bidder. This device is
especially profitable because no one has to make much
of a sacrifice in contributing the articles, and the pur-
chasers will have their money's worth of fun. Other
devices of this kind can be thought out and employed
as a means of making money. These will vary in different
communities either to meet local conditions or in har-
mony with the past experiences of the people. Ac-
tivities of this sort are generally a minor part of the eve-
ning's entertainment and usually come at the last, when
they serve a very good social purpose.
Pay Entertainments. The children will take great
pleasure in rendering a program for entertainment to
which a small entrance fee may be charged. Plays,
or amateur theatricals, are perhaps the most appropriate
to this purpose, but if a charge for admission is made,
140 The Community Center
the people will have a right to expect the best of which
the school is capable. Therefore great care should be
taken to make these programs just as entertaining as
possible. If there are musicians within reach, they may-
be called upon to furnish music. A girls' glee club, a
mandolin club, or the like will add much to the enjoy-
ment of the occasion. If a picture machine is available,
a motion picture show will draw a crowd and net good
returns. It may be that the entertainment committee
can draw upon a near-by normal school or other higher
institution of learning for an evening's entertainment or
for some assistance in the way of music, readings, etc. ;
or, if there is a suitable hall in the community, it may
be possible and advisable to secure entertainers from the
outside for the entire program. But if the expenses are
considerable, the profits derived from the latter method
are usually small and are sometimes a minus quantity.
1. What should be the relation of the parent-teacher association
to the community center?
2. Explain how the United States Department of Agriculture is
fostering the community center movement.
3. Formulate a plan whereby each of the specialized activities
of the community center may use the schoolhouse as a "center."
4. Prepare a paper on "The Grange as a Community Center and
What It Has Accomplished."
5. Explain how you would interest adults in play and athletics.
6. What special significance for Americanization has the evening
school? What is the Federal Government now doing to encourage
evening schools? What part can the school perform in the Govern-
7. How would you undertake to overcome any prejudice that
your patrons might hold against entertaining for profit?
ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMS FOR COMMUNITY
1. GENERAL SUGGESTIONS
Programs Should Be Suited to Community. In these
two final chapters several programs and suggestions are
offered for the consideration of teachers in planning for
community center activities. They are selected as
having in many cases proved most helpful to teachers
in rural communities. To some teachers they may not
be of any great suggestive value, but to the inexperienced
they may be of assistance. In making up the programs
for community center meetings, the teacher will do well
to bear in mind always the past experiences of the people
and of the school in this kind of exercises. For if he pro-
vides a program too difficult or too strange, the people
may fail to be sufficiently interested to desire a continu-
ance of the community meetings ; on the other hand, the
teacher must not dwell too long on entertainment and
mere pastime exercises. In planning the community
work and in making up the programs, let us bear in mind,
then, the following suggestions :
Ultimate Aim of the Community Center. If the growth
of the community center movement has been normal
and healthy, the people may possibly find as much recrea-
tion in the discussion of a civic or an agricultural problem
as they would in any other form of entertainment. The
142 The Community Center
reason why some of our country people have so little
interest in improving their community and its institutions
is that they have lost faith in the possibility of its being
done. Many may have transferred their interests to
the city and their immediate purpose may be to benefit
themselves by going there; but if they can renew their
faith in the country, they will find pleasure in improving
their present situations. Make it possible for them to
anchor their faith to the farm and to country life, and
they may change their whole manner of thinking about
living in the country. Hope lies in the possibilities of
the community center. In the full realization of that
hope they may find in time all the necessary means of
wholesome recreation and of attractive country life.
Initial Steps. Such a lofty aim for the community
center can usually be approached only by the simplest
beginnings. The people must first get the habit of meet-
ing together in a neighborly manner in the enjoyment
of spelling-bees, literary exercises, debates, sociables, etc.
By such meetings they will have acquired certain com-
munity interests and accumulated some social capital,
which together constitute the social machinery necessary
to community betterment. In time they will become
ready to begin some constructive work in the community.
Variation of Programs. By varying the programs of
the community center meetings to include entertainment,
culture, social enjoyment, and discussions of ways for
community improvement, the skillful teacher by a proper
use of social capital thus accumulated will be able to lead
his community through the several stages and processes
of community cooperation first in ways of amusement,
social pleasure, etc., and finally in the art of community
Entertainment Programs 143
It is an ambitious program, yes. But no great problem
was ever solved except by a correspondingly great effort.
The rural life problem is a great problem. It involves
the welfare of over fifty millions of our citizens. These
fifty millions have been said to constitute the backbone
of our nation. Teachers and other rural leaders through-
out the country should look upon their opportunities to
lead in so stupendous an undertaking as a rare privilege.
The opportunity of the individual teacher will depend,
of course, upon the intellectual, social, and moral resources
of his immediate community and upon his own ability
as a leader.
Current Events a Prominent Feature of Every Pro-
gram. Reference has been made to the custom of the
French to gather once a week at the schoolhouses to re-
ceive bulletins on the events of the World War. fn our
own country we met at the schoolhouses to discuss Liberty
Bonds, Red Cross work, and all the other activities in
which we were engaged at home for the winning of the
war. That was the easiest and the most effective method
we had of keeping the people informed both of our success
and of our needs at that time. We still have occasion
to keep the people informed of the events of peace, which
are perhaps as important as the events of war.
Every program of the community center, therefore,
should acquaint the people with the most important events
happening in the state, in the nation, and perhaps in the
world. We can think of nothing more effective in keep-
ing abreast of the times. The custom will arouse a desire
to read newspapers, magazines, farm bulletins, and books.
It will also develop the reading habit in children, and
they may in this way receive new light upon some of their
textbooks. For example, it will enable the teacher to
144 The Community Center
present history in a new aspect and to select from news-
papers, etc., practical problems in arithmetic. The chil-
dren will acquire the habit of rapid reading, something
which they seldom gain by reading textbooks alone.
The teacher should guide the children in preparing " cur-
rent events " for the community meeting. The privi-
lege of doing this may be conditioned upon faithful work
in general or upon excellence in English composition.
This practice cannot be recommended too strongly.
With proper safeguards it can be made most effective
in increasing popular intelligence.
2. PROGRAMS FOR ENTERTAINMENT
Community meetings where self-provided entertain-
ment is the dominant idea are at first among the best
means rural people have for recreation. Such entertain-
ments may be very simple, but they are likely to fit into
the lives of the people and to provide them with wholesome
recreation. At such entertainments as they devise under
the leadership of their teacher, embarrassment is absent,
formality gives way to sociability, and there is a certain
degree of independence. They put themselves thereby
into a mental condition for community growth, the ulti-
mate aim of the community center movement. The
programs which follow may be regarded as types of the
kinds of entertainment that will be found most satis-
Because of its popularity in many communities, one of
the best programs for an entering wedge is a spelling-
bee. It is entertaining because there is a lot of fxm and
Entertainment Programs 145
enjoyment in it. Upon the value of spelling and the
spelling-bee you may, if you like, let Squire Hawkins in
Edward Eggleston's Hoosier Schoolmaster be your adviser.
Squire Hawkins had just been appointed by the teacher
as " pronouncer " of the words for the spelling contest.
In accepting this honor, he made the following remarks :
Ladies and gentlemen, young men and maidens, raley I'm obleeged
to Mr. Means for this honor. I feel in the inmost compartments of
my animal spirits a most happifying sense of the success and futility
of all my endeavors to sarve the people of Flat Creek deestrick,
and the people of Tomkins township, in my weak way and manner.
I feel as if I could be grandiloquent on this interesting occasion,
but raley I must forego any such exertions. It is spelling you want.
Spelling is the corner-stone, the ground, underlying subterfuge of a
good eddication. I put the spellin'-book prepared by the great
Daniel Webster alongside the Bible. I do, raley. I think I may
put it ahead of the Bible. For if it warn't fer spellin'-books and sich
occasions as these, where would the Bible be, I should like to know?
The man who got up, who compounded this work of inextricable
valoo was a benefactor to the whole human race or any other.
Modern educators may object even to the suggestion
of so much emphasis being given to oral spelling. " Spell-
ing," they say, " should be learned incidentally for the
most part in connection with other subjects." Perhaps
it should be, but in actual practice it isn't always learned
thoroughly in that way. The writer confesses to be " old
fogey " enough to hold that in country schools, where
the teacher has so little time for individual instruction
in other subjects, no other method can quite take the
place of oral spelling for at least part of the time. Spell-
ing for " head marks " is about as good an incentive to
thoroughness as has ever been devised. Anyway, wher-
ever spelling is taught in this manner, the spelling-bee
146 The Community Center
will be a popular exercise for the community center.
That is especially true in places where in their younger
years the parents of the children enjoyed the spelling-
bee as a social game which all could play and enjoy.
Suggestions. (1) Occasionally the spelling-bee will
furnish entertainment for the entire evening, but it js
well upon most occasions to precede the spelling contest
with music, readings, informal talks, or a social half
(2) The selection of two captains who choose the
spellers by turns has proved to be the most successful
method of arranging the spellers in opposing teams.
Sometimes two neighboring schools spell against each
other; and sometimes the school children oppose the
older members of the community.
(3) There are two methods of disposing of a speller
when he has missed a word : he either drops out of the
contest, or goes over to the opposing team. For obvious
reasons the former is the better method.
(4) The greatest pains should be taken to pronounce
the words plainly and to do absolute justice to each team.
(5) Let the school challenge a neighboring school
for an interschool spelling contest. If the challenge is
accepted, the teacher will, in all probability, note an added
interest among his pupils in preparing their spelling
lessons ; and they and their parents will have a good time
at the contest.
2. Current events
3. Reading or dialogue, by the pupils
4. Informal talks, by teacher and parents
5. The contest, engaged in by all
Entertainment Programs 147
Ye Old Time School Days
Suggestions. (1) This kind of program has proved to
be one of the most popular among both young and old.
Older folk like to relate the experiences of their youth,
while children always like a story. Telling the story of
earlier days is an effective means of connecting the par-
ents with the schools of to-day. This program may serve
to disillusion those people who think that the schools of
fifty years ago are good enough for the children of to-day ;
it may also give the children a better appreciation of the
educational advantages they enjoy.
(2) This is primarily an old folks' program, so place
on it as many of the older patrons as can be interested
in taking part. If the children participate, their parts
should be in the nature of papers dealing with early life
in the state, written upon such information as they can
get from the textbook in state history and from local
histories or records.
(3) The teacher should take great pains to see person-
ally as many of the older citizens of the community as
possible and find out beforehand what parts they would
prefer to take.
(4) Advertise the program well. If possible, telephone
those who are to appear on the program, a day or two
before the meeting, thus following up personal or written
(5) Extend to the patrons present every possible cour-
(6) Be sure to arrange for some well-known songs.
Organize the school into a chorus and have them practice
the songs a week or so before the meeting.
148 The Community Center
1. Songs, led by school choir
2. Current events
3. "The Old Schoolhouse"
4. "Before the Time of Coal and Gas"
5. "Birch Tea"
6. "My Teacher"
7. Song — " The Schoolhouse on the Hill "
8. "The Days of Jeans, Linsey, and Boots"
9. "Plays and Games"
10. "Our Books"
11. Wittin's " In School Days," recited by a pupil
History of the county.
Old records, reports, and letters.
State superintendent's biennial reports.
Hart, How Our Grandfathers Lived. The Macmillan Company,
Calhoun, When Great Folks Were Little Folks. The Macmillan Com-
pany, New York.
Pratt, Stories of Colonial Children. Educational Publishing Com-
Eggleston, Hoosier School Boy. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
Griffin, School Days of the Fifties. A. Flanagan & Company, Chicago.
Bass, Stories of Pioneer Life. D. C. Heath & Company, New York.
Illustrative pictures, photographs, post cards, etc.
Suggestions. The anniversary of the discovery of
America may be made a red letter day in the teaching
of patriotism. Preparations for the program should be
begun at least a month beforehand, so that the children
may have opportunity to read and acquaint themselves
with the history of Columbus' discovery.
Entertainment Programs 149
1. Song, led by school choir
2. Current events
3. "Early Life of Columbus"
4. "Columbus' Theory of the Earth as a Sphere"
5. "What Columbus Was Really Trying to Do"
6. "World Geography in Columbus' Time" (A map or globe
should be used for demonstration)
7. " Difficulties That Columbus Had in Raising Money to Make
8. Song — "Red, White and Blue"
9. "The Voyage of Columbus"
10. "America before the Discovery by Columbus"
11. "Subsequent Discoveries"
12. "Results to the World of Columbus' Discovery"
13. Song — "America"
Irving, Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus.
See also encyclopedia, and texts on United States history. ,
Shaw, Discoverers and Explorers. American Book Company,
McMurry, Pioneers on Land and Sea. Macmillan Company, New
Moores, The Story of Christopher Columbus. Houghton Mifflin
Stapley, Christopher Columbus. Macmillan Company, New York.
" Debatable *' Questions. Next to the spelling-bee
and "Ye Old Time School Days/' the debate in many
places will be among the most popular of the community
center exercises ; for in times past country folk, especially
the men, greatly enjoyed debating all sorts of questions.
The questions frequently selected for debate in the country
school " literaries '' of fifty or more years ago were some-
150 "^ The Community Center
what after the models set up by the " scholastic " debaters
of the Middle Ages. One of the most popular discus-
sions of these school " literaries " was the question of
whether the earth is flat or round. Such questions were,
of course, selected more for amusement than for any
In the selection of subjects for debate upon such occa-
sions we have an example of early " government control "
in the following authentic account :
In the year 1828, a club of young students at Wellsville, Ohio,
arranged to debate the question of railroads, then just coming into
notice. When they asked the school board for the use of the school-
house, they received the following remarkable reply which is said to
be preserved to this day by Alexander Wells, an aged citizen of that
"You are welcome to the use of the schoolhouse to debate all
proper questions in, but such things as railroads and telegraphs are
impossible and rank infidelity. There is nothing in the Word of God
about them. If God had designed that his intelligent creatures
should travel at the frightful speed of fifteen miles an hour by steam,
He would clearly have foretold it through His holy prophets. It is a
device of Satan to lead immortal souls down to hell."
Selecting Questions for Debate. If the once popular
kind of question be demanded by the people and if no
official interference be forthcoming, then it would be well
for the time being to put aside one's better judgment and
let the people exercise their debating powers after their
own will. In due time they will seek better ways of
exercising these powers. When they have become inter-
ested in the reading of newspapers, magazines, books,
farm magazines, etc., and when they have outlined, a
campaign for community improvement in some of its
phases, they will then be ready to debate questions simi-
lar to the following :
Entertainment Programs 151
(1) Resolved, That the state of should have an effective com-
pulsory school attendance law.
(2) Resolved, That every state in the Union should grant women
equal suffrage with men.
(3) Resolved, That there should be an educational qualification for
(4) Resolved, That the state of should abolish capital punish-
(5) Resolved, That the President of the United States should be
elected for a single term of six years.
(6) Resolved, That boys and girls have a better chance of success
in the country than in the city.
These are suggestive of the kind of question that may-
be debated both for recreation and for creating better
public opinion on many phases of government, current
events, and rural life. Such debates will cause many to
read for information, who have not read much, perhaps,
for years. The children, as well as their parents, will then
find use for a carefully selected school library. The
people will have for conversation many subjects besides
the weather and their neighbors.
Suggestions. (1) The debate may be made a feature
of several programs, depending largely upon the fondness
of the people for debating.
(2) The question for debate should be stated plainly,
in order to avoid any quibbling over the meaning of
words or the phrasing of sentences.
(3) The conditions governing the debate should be
clearly understood by all. Not more than two or three
debaters should be arranged on each side of the question.
The time allowed each contestant should be fixed before-
hand and rigidly adhered to: ten to fifteen minutes
for each of the debaters, and three to five minutes for the
first speaker on the affirmative to sum up and close the
152 The Community Center
debate. Three judges should be appointed to determine
the winners in the contest. The debating teams should
be as evenly matched as possible.
(4) It will prove a wholesome stimulus to community
center meetings, if two neighboring schools challenge
each other for a debating contest; for in that case each
side chooses its best debaters to maintain the reputation
of the school, and each debater has an incentive to do his
best at home in order to represent his school in the inter-
2. Current events
3. Contest in addition of numbers, by several pupils at the black-
4. Dialogue, by a group of pupils
7. Songs and a social half hour
The success of amateur theatricals will of course depend
largely upon the teacher's ability to organize and conduct
them. His greatest difficulty will likely be that of making
up his mind to undertake such a program. He can be
sure of the following conditions, however: (1) that he
can probably do this sort of thing better than any one else
in his community (if not, he can get that other person
to assist him) ; (2) that the pupils will willingly and
zealously help him ; (3) that the parents will enjoy this
program; and (4) that many another teacher has suc-
ceeded admirably with amateur theatricals in rural
Entertainment Programs 153
How One Teacher Succeeded. Let us relate how one
teacher did succeed with dramatization. She was just
an average teacher of an average rural school. She did,
however, have more than average initiative and deter-
mination. Her program was as follows:
1. Song — "My Old Kentucky Home"
2. "The Story of an Indian Girl," by a pupil
3. "Who Are the Indians?" by a citizen
4. "Indians," by the district supervisor
5. "Hiawatha," dramatized by 15 pupils
6. Song — "America"
The steps which this teacher took in the preparation of
her program may perhaps be interesting and suggestive
to those who are undertaking a similar one.
As to the play, "Hiawatha," I told the boys that this was their
program. I do not think I ever saw children enjoy anything so
much as preparing for this play. The boys brought in two white
oak "trees" that would just stand upright in the house. These they
placed on either side of the stage. They built a wigwam of poles
covered with coffee sacks. On the floor they spread branches of
The girls dressed a large doll as an Indian baby, strapped it to a
board, and tied it to one of the trees. They used this in the first scene
to represent Hiawatha's babyhood.
The "chief" wore a plaid blanket and a cap made from paper
sacks, trimmed with turkey feathers. The other boys wore suits
made of coffee sacks trimmed with bright fringe and caps trimmed
Some of the girls trimmed brown dresses with bright fringe. One
wore a black skirt with red sweater trimmed with red fringe. One
wore a loose white dress trimmed with bright cloth. All wore their
hair braided and trimmed with feathers. And each wore several
strands of beads, some of these made of red crepe paper. They
painted their faces with damp crepe paper and powdered this with
browned flour. This made them have a complexion like an Indian.
154 The Community Center
The boys had three Indian songs and two Indian dances, in which
they sang and danced well.
There were about eighty-five persons present, including almost
all of the parents. Some of the parents said, "We are surprised that
the children could do so well."
Begin with Simple Programs. Note how the teacher
appropriated materials found about the school and in
the homes of the children. There was no expense ; every
necessary material was at hand. The program was
prepared simply, but skillfully executed. That is what
the parents like. And if one had seen the joy these
children manifested in preparing and rendering this dram-
atization, he would be convinced that failure to help the
children in this kind of play deprives them of one of the
greatest pleasures of childhood.
Use Familiar Subject Matter. We should remember
that we are entertaining country folk. Use the literary
inheritances of the race for dramatization, but not those
in which the theme or the setting is foreign to the experi-
ences of country people. For example, every one knows
something about, and is interested in, Indians. There-
fore the dramatization of Hiawatha was enjoyed and
understood, although many in the audience had never
read or even heard of the poem.
Stage Decorations. In graded or consolidated schools,
of course, more elaborate programs can be staged, and
more difficult subjects may be selected ; but in the one-
room school we have to make the best we can out of a
limited space. Even then, however, we may have at
least the appearance of a stage with something of the
air of the theater. For the stage, a large packing-box
may serve very well ; this may be painted or draped in
any suitable color. Tin lamps with reflectors may be
Entertainment Programs 155
used for footlights. One or two strong lights may be
placed out of sight of the audience, on either side of the
stage. Sheets of colored glass may be used to cast any
necessary color effects.
In the school or in the community, the teacher can
generally find some one who has sufficient genius to paint
and arrange the necessary scenery. It may be painted
on sheets of calico stretched across a wooden frame. If
that seems to be too difficult of accomplishment, then the
stage can be decorated in other ways so as to make it
presentable. Drop-curtains or side-curtains may be
arranged without great difficulty. Side-curtains are
Costuming. The costuming and make-up must depend
upon the ingenuity of the teacher, her pupils, and helpful
members of the community. Ordinarily, the nature of
the play or tableaux will suggest proper costuming and
make-up. However, a good play may be staged success-
fully with very little of either, for the people will not be
familiar with these devices. One should not allow a
lack of costuming and make-up to deter him in arranging
Selecting Plays and Subjects. In selecting plays or
subjects for tableaux the greatest care should be exer-
cised. They should not be too difficult for the children
to perform, nor too foreign to the experiences of the
people. At first the simplest subjects should be selected ;
later, more difficult ones can be undertaken. The text-
books in reading will contain a good many suitable selec-
tions. At first, some of these dramatizations may be
tried out with the children alone ; later they can be per-
formed at one of the community meetings. History
furnishes a lot of suitable material for tableaux. The
156 The Community Center
landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, Pocahontas, George
Washington at Valley Forge, and other subjects will
entertain and at the same time bring out vividly many
of the lessons of national history.
A Historical Pageant. Not long ago a historical pag-
eant was presented by the pupils of a rural consolidated
and high school in celebration of the birthdays of Wash-
ington and Lincoln. The program was so well received
that the school was persuaded to render it again a week
later. It took considerable time and effort on the part
of the teachers to prepare for this pageant ; costumes had
to be made, scenery had to be arranged, the pupils had
to be drilled; but all this work was closely correlated
with the class work in United States history. The
episodes in the pageant were as follows, several patriotic
songs being distributed throughout the program :
(1) Scenes from "Hiawatha" — the wooing, the visit to the home
of the arrowmaker, the wedding feast, the famine, and the death
(2) The scene where Washington's father discovers that his
favorite cherry tree has been cut down. George enters with his
hatchet, confesses, and receives his father's commendations for being
(3) Washington as surveyor, with his Indian guides.
(4) The wedding of Washington and Martha Custis.
(5) The first flag, representing Betty Ross as showing Washing-
ton, George Ross, and Robert Morris the flag she had made.
(6) Washington at Valley Forge.
(7) The surrender of Cornwallis.
(8) Washington taking the oath of office as President.
(9) Scenes from the life of Lincoln presented in the same way.
This historical pageant was presented in the auditorium
of the school by a group of country boys and girls to an
assemblage consisting mainly of farmers and their wives.
Entertainment Programs 157
It was a real pleasure for the audience and the finest
kind of experience for the actor pupils.
Subjects for Tableaux. Local history furnishes many-
good subjects for tableaux. Literature, also, abounds
in subjects : Dickens' Christmas Carol, Tennyson's Dream
of Fair Women, etc. Mary Hazleton Wade has prepared
a series of plays, Little Folks^ Plays of American Heroes,^
which are especially helpful to teachers in producing
historic scenes. " George Washington," " Benjamin
Franklin," and " Ulysses S. Grant " are among titles
of plays published.
Holiday Plays for Home, School, and Settlement, by Vir-
ginia Olcott, and Plays, Pantomimes, and Tableaux for
Children, by Nora Archibald Smith, are among the new
books prepared especially to aid teachers in school theat-
The Farm Pageant. A farm pageant showing the
methods of agriculture in the early days makes a very
interesting program. Such a pageant could be made
to show the development of agriculture — implements,
methods, results, etc. — in this country, or the develop-
ment and methods of agriculture in different countries.
An entertainment of this character would be very appro-
priate for " Old Home Week Celebration " or for an
evening entertainment at a farmers' institute. The boys'
and girls' agricultural clubs would take great pleasure
in dramatizing the story of corn culture by the Indians,
the tale of Sir Walter Raleigh's learning to smoke tobacco,
or the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney. The
audience will be surprised by the zeal and the ability
displayed by the children in these plays.
* See bibliography, page 209.
158 The Community Center
Halloween heretofore has been an occasion observed
more in the city than in the country. The writer remem-
bers that he was seventeen years of age before he had the
privilege of understanding the hidden meaning of this
celebration and then it was in a college town. But there
is every reason why rural school children should have
their share of the fun. The teacher will find them apt
candidates while he is initiating them into the " secret
rites of this ancient order."
A Halloween Frolic. The following account of a Hallow-
een frolic was taken from The Country Gentleman: ^
The success of all Halloween frolics depends upon the mystery
which shrouds the arrangements. Last year the boys of a country
neighborhood noted for its entertainments were delighted to receive
unique invitations from the girls for a Halloween party. The invita-
tions are worthy of description. They were made of stiff black
paper in the form of witches' hats. The date was written on the
peaks, and the invitation on the rims. White ink was used. These
were mailed in small square boxes, with the address on a tag, just as
milliners deliver their hats.
Twenty boys found these missives in their mail boxes and great
consultations were rife as to suitable costumes. Finally they simply
masked, and sallied forth for "Linton's Barn" at the appointed hour.
As they entered the dark lane a tall figure, all in white, with a brightly
gleaming jack-o'-lantern head, rose before them. This guide silently
led them to the barn doors. These glided open, to reveal a double
line of ghosts, to whom the guide nodded so violently that her head
fell off and broke at their very feet. At this signal each ghost darted
forward and seized a guest, blindfolding him, whirling him three times
round and leading him away.
As the line of twenty couples marched up and down, weird music
went on ahead of them, and each ghost entertained her captive with
tales of mystery.
»Oct. 18, 1913
Entertainment Programs 159
After a half hour of this and when the boys were completely be-
wildered, a loud voice called **Halt!" and ice-cold fingers removed
the blindfolds and each boy was turned round three or four times.
They were in a place which seemed entirely strange to them, al-
though they knew every farm for miles around. But this dusky
cave, with only jack-o'-lantern lights, with a witch's caldron bubbling
in front of it, and six black-hatted witches dancing round the witch
fire, was bewildering. The sound of rushing waters and of the wind
among high trees added to the perfection of the setting for the scene.
Finally an automobile light gleamed among the trees, and as the whole
place became bright they found that they were in a gravel pit where
half of them had worked the week before. Pine boughs, jack-o'-
lanterns, camp fires, and rustic stage showed that the girls' fathers
had been silent partners in the affair.
Another car glided up, and then another, and, as if by magic,
trestles and boards were discovered and long tables were forthcom-
ing. Witches, ghosts, and guests flew to and fro, automobiles un-
loaded great hampers of food, and a father and a mother stayed to
make the supper and chaperon the crowd. Sandwiches, meats,
salads, cakes, pies, fruit — all loaded the table ; and from the camp
fire came hot baked beans and potatoes, sizzling ham and steaming
coffee. The table decorations were green paper snakes, paper pump-
kins (candy filled), and cookies in the shape of cats and witch hats.
After a long hour's fun at the table, ghosts and witches changed
into mere girls, the crowd was divided into four groups of ten, and
each group was allowed ten minutes to prepare for a "stunt" to be
given on the stage. Driftwood was piled on the fires, and no better
footlights were needed for the ridiculous program that followed.
One group gave charades, taking words appropriate to Halloween,
and another group gave an impromptu one-act play, each actor
making up his own lines.
Just at midnight five more well-trained fathers appeared, and as
the six autoloads of youngsters sped homeward, the boys decided
that it would take them a year to get up a party for the girls equal to
the one just enjoyed.
Let the Children Have a Good Time. Not every teacher
will be able to carry out such an elaborate program as
this. He may not have a suitable barn or automobiles
160 The Community Center
or such capable assistants. Perhaps this program will
not fit into the lives of very many communities. Never-*
theless, it is possible for any teacher to provide both the
children and their parents with an enjoyable evening cele-
brating Halloween. Dismiss at this time the " constitu-
tion and by-laws " in favor of a good time. No formal
program is suggested for this social affair. It may be
best, however, to have a brief program made up of songs,
or of such readings as James Whitcomb Riley's " When
the Frost Is on the Pumpkin," Helen Hunt Jackson's
" October's Bright Blue Weather," and Washington
Irving's " Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
Harvest Home Day
This occasion is usually celebrated in Thanksgiving
week. In the South it may be an all-day picnic, with
games, athletic contests, and a community basket dinner.
Those who have moved into other communities are invited
to return for another enjoyable time. It may be made
the occasion of a school fair or agricultural exhibit. It
ought to be made a joyful annual gathering of the com-
munity and its friends. If the meeting is held at the
schoolhouse and a program is to be rendered, the following
may be suggestive :
2. Devotional exercises
3. Current events
4. Reading of the President's Thanksgiving Proclamation
5. Recitation — "Heap High the Golden Grain"
6. Paper — "Origin of Thanksgiving Day"
7. Songs, or selections by band or orchestra
8. "The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers"
9. Paper — "What I Am Thankful For"
10. Farm pageant or tableaux
Entertainment Programs 161
Suggestions. (1) Most of the school journals now offer
suggestions and programs for the observance of Christmas,
so that it is hardly necessary to make mention of them
here. This program should, however, impress the chil-
dren with the proper spirit of Christmas giving. The
phrase " proper spirit '* is used because we seem to have
departed from it in our celebration of Christmas Day;
that is, we strive to outgive one another, a practice which
tends to embarrass the less fortunate. This is an excellent
occasion for setting right the minds of the rising genera-
(2) In rural communities the Christmas tree and a
Santa Claus will prove to be the best means of entertain-
ment. Arrangements should be made, however, whereby
every child may receive a present from the tree. The
teacher may be able to interest some of the citizens to
contribute a small sum to carry out this fundamental
principle of impartiality. In former days teachers had
a custom of " treating " the scholars, which was for
the latter a very important part of the school program.
As we remember those days, the custom was a good one,
and for the children it oftentimes furnished a lot of enter-
tainment in itself. There is no reason, so far as we can
see, why the custom might not be revived with some
advantages, for in some country districts, where the
children have but little merriment to brighten the work
of learning and reciting lessons, a frolic of this kind, that
is, the Christmas tree, the Santa Claus, and the teacher's
treat of candy, makes a red letter day or evening for the
children. That in itself is all the program that is neces-
sary for a general good time.
162 The Community Center
(3) If a more formal program is desired, it should be
made up of appropriate readings, songs, and informal talks
by the teacher and the parents.
1. Song — "All Hail the Power"
2. Devotional exercises
3. Current events
4. "What the Birth of Christ Has Meant to the World"
5. Select reading
6. "The Meaning of Christmas"
8. Song — "Come, Thou Almighty King"
9. "Christmas in Other Countries"
10. Select reading
11. "The Meaning of Christmas Giving"
12. Ringing of Santa Claus' sleigh bells
Consult any encyclopedia and such other books as are available.
Mabie, The Book of Christmas. Macmillan Company, New York.
Dickens, Christmas Stories. American Book Company, New York.
Moore, The Night before Christmas.
Schauflfier, Christmas. Moffat, Yard & Company, New York.
Smith and Hazeltine, Christmas in Legend and Story. Lothrop, Lee &
Dickinson, Christmas Stories and Legends. Doubleday, Page & Com-
pany, Garden City, N. Y.
Read Bible story of Christmas, St. Luke, II, 6-20.
Illustrate with any pictures available in the school or the community.
Suggestions. (1) One may be unable to read music
and yet be able to provide a good program, through the
use of familiar songs. Even if one does not sing, he may
take courage from the fact that some of our very best
Entertainment Programs 163
choral directors sing very indifferently. If, however,
the teacher does not feel capable of preparing and direct-
ing a music program, he can very likely find some one
in the community to assist him.
(2) The old-time singing school, like the spelling-bee,
was formerly very popular among country people. In
days gone by the singing master was a familiar and
important character in a great many rural communities,
and the country is probably the loser by his disappear-
ance. A few years ago one of these singing masters went
into a certain county and organized a number of singing
schools. He traveled from one to the other, after the
custom of the " circuit rider," living among the people of
the several neighborhoods. At the close of his series of
lessons, he held a " grand musical concert " at the most
central school. Three thousand people assembled and
sang together the songs he had taught them. The teacher
may not be able to duplicate a feat of this sort ; but each
teacher can organize a singing school or chorus, and the
spirit and the pleasure of the community center meetings
will be greatly enhanced thereby. If, perchance, there
is a teacher with sufficient musical ability, a union of
all the schools of a township or of a county could be ef-
fected. Such a gathering of singers would make the com-
mon school commencement exercises a most happy occa-
sion ; it could also be made an annual reunion of the sev-
eral community centers.
An Interesting Experiment. In order to show how
easy it is to interest people in singing, we will relate an
experiment which was made by an instructor in choral
music a few years ago at a state university summer school.
He had noticed the throngs of workmen and other towns-
people who, with no apparent purpose, paraded the streets
164 The Community Center
on a Saturday night; so he conceived the idea of se-
lecting a central place and throwing the words of
patriotic songs on to a canvas by means of a lantern,
thus attracting the passing crowd. He made no public
At 7 : 30 P.M. he appeared with two interested col-
leagues in the court house, square and began to arrange
the canvas and the lantern. These movements attracted
a great many people from sheer curiosity, so that by half
past eight a large crowd had assembled, wondering what
was going to happen. Then he explained his purpose
and invited all to join in the singing. First " The Star-
Spangled Banner " was thrown on to the canvas. The
crowd was a bit timid about singing this selection, doubt-
less because they were not very familiar with the words,
or perhaps because it is a very difficult song. Next
" America " appeared, and the crowd spontaneously
began a clapping of hands. They drew nearer the canvas
and sang this song with much enthusiasm. Then fol-
lowed " Nearer, My God, to Thee," " My Old Kentucky
Home," " Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean," and other
familiar hymns and folk songs, ten in all. Near the close,
the crowd asked to sing " America " again. The singing
closed with " Home, Sweet Home."
After the first song all timidity seemed to disappear,
and the singing improved as the program progressed until
at the close all were enthusiastic singers. One elderly
gentleman was heard to remark that he had not sung so
much in a year.
A notable feature of the experiment was the behavior
of the forty-odd boys who happened to be attracted into
the crowd. Without directions from any one they all
sat on the ground in a group just in front of the canvas.
Entertainment Programs 165
They were very orderly and joined heartily in the singing
of every selection that appeared.
At the close of the program an Italian boy fifteen years
of age came forward and asked how he might secure a
copy of '' Home, Sweet Home/' saying that he liked
that. A song book containing this selection was given
him. It was estimated that at least a thousand people
dropped aside from among the passers-by and joined in
this impromptu affair. The experiment demonstrated
some of the possibilities of community singing. Its
distinguishing features were its impromptu character
and the manner in which the crowd was held together
without the aid of musical instruments. This was done
by pointing to the words with a long pole, which also served
to make plain to the crowd the rhythm of the songs.
The illustrations just given show that people have an
innate love of music. Under a leader it is easy to interest
them in community singing. The power of community
singing upon community life and its wholesome effects
on individuals are well known. If a community sing
together, they will be more likely to work together on any
plan of community improvement.
(3) It may not be possible to plan music entertain-
ments upon so large a scale as has been indicated, but
nevertheless let them be undertaken upon a scale suited
to prevailing conditions. It is at least possible to organize
the school as a chorus. It may be possible to organize
a girls' glee club or a boys' mandolin club. Let singing
be a prominent part of every meeting and, if possible,
arrange a few programs in which music predominates.
The pupils will be ever ready to join whole-heartedly
in any such undertaking. For suitable material, consult
166 The Community Center
Stories of Great Men
Suggestions. (1) One of the best ways of teaching
history is by the study of biography. It is also one of
the most effective means of inspiring the young to per-
sonal ambition and to high moral principles. A program
made up of characteristic stories about great men will appeal
to both young and old and will be instructive as well as
entertaining. Parts of several programs or occasionally a
whole evening may be devoted to biographical story-telling.
(2) The teacher should assist those who may be assigned
places on this program in selecting the most appropriate
characters as subjects and the best stories about their
lives and achievements. The biographies of Lincoln,
Washington, Joan of Arc, Lloyd George, Clemenceau,
and hosts of the world's great men and women will furnish
abundant material. This program ought to encourage
the reading of books, and this in turn ought to point the
need for a larger and more carefully selected library than
is found in the average rural school.
2. Current events
3. "A Story about George Washington"
4. "The Funny Side of Abraham Lincoln"
5. "Personal Recollections of a Great Man," by a citizen
6. "General Lee, the Man"
7. "A Story about My Favorite Hero in History," by a pupil
8. "Woodrow Wilson, the Scholar-Statesman"
9. "Longfellow, the Child's Friend"
Wade, Leaders to Liberty. Little, Brown & Company, Boston.
Quiller-Couch, The Roll Call of Honor. Thomas Nelson & Sons,
New York City.
Entertainment Programs 167
Gilbert, More Than Conquerors. The Century Company, New York
Parkman, Fighters for Peace. The Century Company, New York.
Parkman, Heroes of Today. The Century Company, New York.
Perry, Four American Inventors. American Book Company, New
Kingsley, Four American Explorers. American Book Company,
Hawthorne, Biographical Stories. Houghton Mifflin Company,
Williams, Som£ Successful Americans. Ginn & Company, Boston.
Whitcomb, Heroes in History. Charles E. Merrill Company, New
Suggestions. (1) We should bear in mind that in
many rural communities few of the inhabitants have
traveled much. Some of the older folk may never have
been far from their immediate community. Children
study their geographies and read about many interesting
places and things, but they may have very meager con-
ceptions about them after all. A program on travel,
therefore, will prove to be both entertaining and instruc-
(2) A travelogue with lantern slides is very illuminating
if arrangements for it can be made. Albums, pictures,
and post cards may be used with good effect. The
National Geographic Magazine will furnish abundant
material. Moving picture machines are also available
at comparatively small cost.
(3) The best travel experiences of the community
should be drawn upon for this program. Perhaps one
or more children have made a visit to a distant county
or city, or even abroad. There may be some children
or adults who have come from a foreign country; if so,
168 The Community Center
they may make a valuable contribution to the pro-
gram. By the use of maps, charts, etc., the program
can be made a valuable geography lesson for the whole
(4) If the travel experiences of the community are
meager, then selected readings from books of travel
accompanied by maps may help greatly in the evening's
(5) For small groups fairly well informed in geography,
several travel games are suitable. One of the best known
is as follows : The players are seated in a circle, and one
calls the name of a country. The player next to him on
the left must then name a country, either with the first
or the last letter of the word just given. Each player
to the left does the same in succession. A definite time,
say twenty seconds, should be fixed in which each player
shall pronounce the next word. Anybody who fails to
give a word within the time limit fixed drops out of the
game. If the last letter of the word pronounced is to
be the initial letter of the next word, the procedure should
be as follows : *' England " is first pronounced. The
next player says " Denmark.'' If the third player
cannot recall a country whose name begins with " K,"
he may say " Kokomo," since he may use any geographi-
cal name, be it country, river, island, or town. The
game stops when nobody can find a name with which to
continue. A similar game can be played using the cities
or towns of the United States.
A simpler game is called "Alphabet." The leader
announces a geographic name. Each player must an-
nounce other geographic names beginning with the same
letter. For example, suppose the leader says " Balti-
more." Then we might have in succession: Baltimore,
Entertainment Programs 169
Buffalo, Brunswick, Baden, Bowling Green, etc., observ-
ing the same rules as in the other game.
The teacher will have to determine what is the best
program in view of the local conditions. The following
may be suggestive :
A Program .
1. Song, led by school choir
2. Current events
3. "Where I Spent My Vacation," by a pupil
4. "My First Visit to a Great City," by a pupil or citizen
5. "Where I Would Go if I Should Follow the Stream That
Runs Nearest the Schoolhouse"
6. "An Ocean Voyage," by a citizen or pupil
8. "How to Travel by Reading Books on Travel"
9. "Near-by Places of Interest to the Traveler"
10. "Five Interesting Places in the United States," by a pupil
Carpenter, Geographical Readers (series). American Book Com-
pany, New York.
Defoe, Robinson Crusoe. American Book Company, New York.
Ballou, Footprints of Travel. Ginn & Company, Boston.
Winslow, Earth and Its People. D. C. Heath & Company, New York.
Bowman, South America. Rand, McNally & Company, Chicago.
Huntington, Asia. Rand, McNally & Company, Chicago.
Starr, Strange Peoples. D. C. Heath & Company, New York.
Suggestions. Only recently have motion pictures
made their way into rural districts ; heretofore the cities
and towns have seemed to enjoy the monopoly of this
kind of entertainment. Some of the motion picture
companies are now producing a good quality of pictures
170 The Community Center
designed especially for school entertainments and for
educational purposes. It is now possible to produce the
best motion pictures on the market in the one-teacher
rural school and at reasonable expense.
Homewood's Motion Pictures. Mr. Warren Dunham
Foster has perhaps made as careful study of the motion
picture for its educative and entertaining values as has
any one else up to this time. In an address before a
convention of the National Education Association in
New York City, Mr. Foster made the following state-
The motion picture used for community service brought Home-
wood people to the centers and there gave them something very much
worth while. Homewood's motion pictures competed successfully
with commercial theaters, yet presented nothing not in harmony
with the dignity of the school and the furtherance of its broad edu-
cational purposes. Homewood learned that in this city of New York
alone one half million people see motion pictures every day, while
only one fifth more persons attend the formal schools from kinder-
garten through the university. Homewood found that the best
figures obtainable indicate that one person in five in the United States
sees motion pictures every day. Homewood remembered that only
one person in five in the United States is supposed to attend the public
school system. Twenty million people see motion pictures every
day; 21,102,113 were enrolled in all educational institutions in 1912.
Just plain folks discover that the motion picture takes everywhere
to them, that it destroys for them the otherwise galling limitations
of time, space, and circumstance. It gives them not pictures but
actual transcripts of life as it is and life as they want it to be. Do
we wonder that overnight the motion picture has become a great
teacher? Or perhaps the great teacher? That we hail it as the
greatest aid to education since the invention of printing?
In Homewood nothing was wrong with the motion picture. Some-
thing was decidedly wrong with the hands that had seized upon it.
The Homewood school had left the motion picture to the commercial
amusement interests instead of putting it to work for educational
and social ends. At last, however, the school made its alliance with
Entertainment Programs 171
the motion picture. It had found that schools, women's clubs,
and churches everywhere are presenting recreational motion pictures
for community service. In its own community centers and schools,
Homewood is now using the best in drama, literature, science, and
travel. Young folks and old come to be entertained — as is their
right — and stay to be entertained and educated. Homewood
finds that good motion pictures cost money, but that its people are
more than willing to pay for what they get.
The Motion Picture in Country Schoolhouses. Cer-
tain motion picture companies are now giving especial
attention to motion pictures for rural and village com-
munities. A special kind of film is being manufactured
which is non-inflammable; with this improvement the
machine can be set up and used in any schoolhouse in
the land without danger from fire. The whole outfit,
including the machine, the canvas, and an acetylene gas
tank can be purchased for something over two hundred
dollars. The gas tank can be refilled at a cost of one
dollar and will last for twenty " shows,'' making the
cost of gas five cents for each night. Films can be rented
at a comparatively small cost and they can be exchanged
at any time for new films.
Of course, not many one-teacher schools could afford
even this small expense. Nevertheless, there are county
superintendents, district supervisors, county and district
agricultural agents, any of whom may serve as a coordi-
nating agency to provide motion picture shows, say, once
a month, for each of the schools within his territory.
These motion picture machines can be purchased on the
installment plan, so that a small admission fee of ten or
fifteen cents will keep up the monthly payments and pay
the rental on the films used.
The Motion Picture as Teacher. On the " picture
show nights " larger numbers will usually be present than
172 The Community Center
at any other meetings. It is important, however, that
the motion picture programs shall vary so as to appeal
as far as possible to every member of the community.
The people may become weary of too much information,
especially the boys and girls; while the adults may be-
come weary of too much comedy. A very good plan is
to have three films, one of them comedy, and the other
two of an informational nature. Children as well as
adults like travelogues, literary productions with the
story prominent, and films dealing with the lives and
habits of birds and other animals. If properly conducted,
the motion picture can be made instructive as well as
entertaining. People who will not read a book or a bulle-
tin will look understandingly at a picture with the mini-
mum of effort. A great many observers have testified to
the fact that persons who have never found the best fic-
tion entertaining do really get a fair appreciation of the
same subject matter from the screen. The writer made
an interesting observation some time ago bearing on this
point. He happened to be seated at the same table in
a cafe with two traveling salesmen, one of whom the night
before had seen on the screen Hugo's Les Miserahles.
He told his companion the whole story, and with remark-
ably accurate details. Their conversation revealed the
fact that neither of them had ever read the book or had
even known of the book's existence. After the story
was told, the one who had rehearsed it said, " Man, if
the schools had given us that sort of thing when we were
kids, we sure would have learned something, don't you
think? " That remark contains a good suggestion, both
from the standpoint of the community center and of the
more formal school work. Experience has proved beyond
question, we believe, that the teaching of literature,
Entertainment Programs 173
geography, and science can be made very much more
attractive and effective when the classroom instruction is
supplemented by the motion picture. And it is not too
much to expect that a great many adults who through
no fault of their own failed in their earlier days to get a
fair knowledge and appreciation of these subjects, may
yet do so by means of the motion picture.
Suggestions. (1) The Indian character is interesting
both to children and to adults; interesting to children
mainly because the stage of his development is so akin
to that of the growing boy or girl, and to adults because
he figures so prominently in American history and litera-
ture. At any rate, a program on Indians generally proves
to be popular ; it can also be made educative.
(2) If possible, this program should be rendered largely
by citizens who possess some intimate knowledge of In-
dians. Some of the older citizens may have had some
personal experiences with them in the earlier days. A
good many of the children will have seen Indians with the
circus. On the other hand, the program may have a
local bearing upon the pioneer days of the early settlers.
(3) Boys will take great delight in wearing their best
Indian costumes for such programs. Those who do not
have Indian costumes can easily prepare them from coffee
sacks, blankets, feathers, etc., without expense.
(4) This program may be made an incentive to reading
books of Indian stories in the school library. The teacher
should take plenty of time in preparation. The drama-
tization of realistic stories about Indians will probably
prove to be the best entertainment. It is one program
174 The Community Center
in which the children will surely be interested if they are
allowed to have their bows and arrows and such other
Indian relics as they may possess or as they may devise
for this occasion.
2. Current events
3. "Who Are the Indians?"
4. Indian war dance. (To be taught the children for this occa-
5. "Indian Traits, Good and Bad"
6. Dramatization of an Indian story
The Childhood of Hiawatha, a dramatization of Hiawatha, by Mrs.
Bessie Whitely. C. C. Birchard & Company, Boston.
Chase, Children of the Wigwam. Educational Publishing Company,
Roulet, Indian Folk Tales. American Book Company, New York.
Cooper, The Deerslayer. American Book Company, New York.
Newell, Indian Stories. Silver, Burdett & Company, Boston.
Hazard and Button, Indians and Pioneers. Silver, Burdett & Com-
Austin, The Trail Book. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
Eastman, Indian Legends Retold. Little, Brown & Company, Boston.
Illustrative pictures, post cards, etc.
Suggestions. (1) A program dealing with local history
can be made both entertaining and instructive; it may
also be the means of stirring up a bit more of community
pride. If, for example, it be shown that the schoolhouse
is no better than the one the parents attended school in,
although the farms, the homes, the roads, etc., have been
Entertainment Programs 175
improved meanwhile, the comparison may be strongly-
suggestive of a new schoolhouse.
(2) Both parents and pupils should be represented on
a local history program. For details of preparation, see
(3) See that every important event is chronicled.
(4) See to it also that no single family receives mention
out of proportion to its merits. Care should be taken
to avoid creating any bitterness in the community, such
as might occur through the revival of old controversial
2. Current events
3. "The First Settler and His Times"
4. "The Oldest Church"
5. "The Schoolhouse Then and Now"
6. "How We Have Grown Educationally"
7. "Farming To-day and Forty Years Ago"
8. "Introduction of Improved Farm Machinery"
9. "Introduction of improved Live Stock"
10. "Successful Men Who Were Home Boys"
History of the state
History of the county
Old records, reports, letters, photographs, etc.
State superintendent's biennial reports
Suggestions. (1) A few programs may be made up
wholly or in part of Bible stories, — stories of the great
characters and of the great events of the Bible. Learn-
ing these stories so as to be able to tell them before an
176 The Community Center
audience will be of great value to the children. The
parents also should have places on these programs.
(2) It may be well to have the children learn these
stories and tell them before the school as devotional exer-
cises, previous to the date of the meeting.
(3) The teacher should direct the children, and perhaps
the parents as well, in the selection of the stories to be told.
Books of Bible stories will be found in many country homes.
(4) Avoid any discussions or controversies over bibli-
cal doctrines. Let this program be strictly a Bible story
program. No program is suggested but instead some
subjects for stories are presented.
Some Good Stories to Tell
Abraham and Lot — Genesis xiii-xiv
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah — Genesis xviii and first
thirty verses of xix
Joseph and His Brethren — Genesis xxxvii, xxxix, xlvii
Early Life and Call of Moses — Exodus i-iv
The Passage of the Red Sea — Exodus xiii, xiv
Crossing the Jordan — Joshua iii-iv
The Life and Death of Samson — Judges xiii-xvi
The Story of Ruth and Naomi — Ruth i-iv
The Anointing of Saul — 1 Samuel viii-x
Saul's Disobedience — 1 Samuel xv
The Story of David and Goliath — 1 Samuel xxii-xxiii
The Friendship of David and Jonathan — 1 Samuel xviii : 1-14, xx
Stories of Elijah — 1 Kings xvi-xix
The Capture of Jerusalem -^ 2 Kings xxv
Daniel and the Fiery Furnace — Daniel i-iii
Daniel in the Den of Lions — Daniel vi
The Story of Jonah — Book of Jonah
Bible story books found in every community.
Sunday School les&on leaves.
Entertainment Programs 177
Suggestions. (1) February offers a golden oppor-
tunity for lessons in patriotism. The birthdays of Wash-
ington and Lincoln may be celebrated with a single pro-
gram. Special care should be taken in its preparation
and patriotism should be the dominant motive.
(2) Suggestions for this program have been so skill-
fully worked out elsewhere ^ that we take the liberty of
1. As in the corn festival, careful planning will permit much
of the school work to be used for the program.
a. Invitations may be made by the pupils. Cut out a shield,
paste on it a picture of Lincoln or Washington. Use this for cover
of the invitation.
6. Little booklets containing a picture of either hero, with quota-
tions, etc., may be made to give to the parents who come and sent
to those who cannot. (Postage stamps furnish a picture of Lincoln
and Washington.) Or cut out cherries from red, leaves from green,
and stems from brown paper and paste them on a shield.
c. Let the chart class have a reading lesson about the flag. Let
each carry a flag, and at the close of the lesson repeat :
** I love the name of Washington ;
I love my country too ;
I love the flag, the dear old flag.
With its red and white and blue."
d. Tell a good story of Washington or Lincoln to your school.
Use a map and make it impressive. Then let one of your older pupils
tell it at the program. The battles of Trenton and Princeton are
good. For Lincoln there are many, but a selection from "The Per-
fect Tribute" is excellent.
e. Have a flag drill. Use it for a rest exercise, and also for indoor
exercise during February ; then it is ready for the program.
1 Social and Civic Work in Country CommunitieSf Bulletin No.
18, Wisconsin Department of Education.
178 The Community Center'
/. Let the history class read about the first flag and write stories
showing several conversations about it.
g. Let each child wear a badge, a picture of Washington or Lin-
coln on a white circle of cardboard with ribbons of red, white and
blue paper pasted back of it. Have one for each guest also.
2. Other interesting features of the evening may be :
a. The music — Have just as many stirring and patriotic songs
as your people know, but be sure to invite the audience to rise and
sing with you in the last number, "America." See that your pupils
know every word.
b. Home-made flags of other nations. Boys may prepare staffs,
girls may copy flags from dictionary, using cambric or tissue paper.
Then prepare an exercise telling about them, and close with some one
of the many tributes to our flag, — all other flags dropped, ours
high. This would be good for closing, and the audience could be
invited to rise for "America."
(3) If possible, the room should be decorated with
American flags. The personal character of Washington
should be strongly emphasized by reading or reciting
appropriate selections from literature. This is a good
opportunity for tableaux.
2. Current events
3. "Washington and His Times"
4. "The Incident of the Cherry Tree as an Example to Young
Americans," by a citizen
6. "Washington, the Soldier"
7. "Washington as a Farmer"
8. "What I Think is the Best Story about the Life of Washing-
ton," by a pupil
9. Tableau — "Washington at Valley Forge"
Entertainment Programs 179
Consult any Life of Washington.
See texts on United States history and literature.
Hill, On the Trail of Washington. D. Appleton & Company, New
Scudder, George Washington. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
Brooks, The True Story of George Washington. Lothrop, Lee &
Guerber, Story of the Thirteen Colonies. American Book Company,
Washington's Rules of Conduct, etc. Houghton Mifflin Company,
Suggestions. (1) Where Lincoln's birthday is regu-
larly celebrated, the program submitted below may be
(2) All reference to politics or partisanship should be
1. Song — "America"
2. Current events
3. "Lincoln's School Days"
4. "Lincoln and the Pig"
5. "Lincoln, the Rail-Splitter"
6. "Lincoln, the Statesman"
7. Song — "The Star-Spangled Banner"
8. Lincoln's "Gettysburg Speech," read by a pupil
9. "Lincoln, the Man"
10. Lowell's "Ode to Lincoln," recited by a pupil
11. Whitman's "0 Captain, My Captain," recited by a pupil
12. Song — "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean"
180 The Community Center
Consult texts on history and literature.
Nicolay, The Boy's Life of Abraham Lincoln. The Century Company,
Gordy, Abraham Lincoln. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.
Morgan, Abraham Lincoln, The Boy and the Man. Macmillan
Company, New York.
Baldwin, Life of Abraham Lincoln. American Book Company, New
Chase, Boyhood of Famous Americans. Educational Publishing Com-
Pictures, photographs, post cards, etc.
Charnwood, Life of Lincoln. Henry Holt & Company, New York.
' CHAPTER XII
COUNTRY LIFE PROGRAMS
Community Building. The programs suggested under
" entertainments '' are intended primarily for entertain-
ment or recreation. If skillfully directed, while serving
this purpose they will also help to establish a spirit of
community social life and neighborliness. In other words,
the community will have had an opportunity to accu-
mulate sufficient social capital to begin community build-
ing. As has already been indicated, the teacher will
have to decide what kind of program is best suited to
prepare for earnest constructive work, and how many
such programs will be necessary.
In certain favored communities very few programs
will be necessary before launching through the community
center meetings a campaign for some definite community
improvement. This campaign may be begun by a debate
or a discussion of the needed improvements as one feature
of an entertainment program. If, for example, health
conditions have been allowed to become dangerous to
the public welfare, a local physician may be put upon
the program to tell the people what dangers to health
are prevailing and to outline the remedy for such condi-
tion. If typhoid has stricken some of the families, then
an address from a physician, or a motion picture showing
the dangers of stagnant water and of the common house
fly, would be of esr>ecial interest and value. A presenta-
182 The Community Center
tion of such facts should in every case, either at the same
meeting or at the following one, be followed by a discus-
sion of ways and means of ridding the community of the
dangers from typhoid germs. If, fortunately, bad health
conditions do not exist, then let the teacher and his
advisers select some other phase of the community which
needs betterment. It may be a proposition to improve
the schoolhouse or the school yard, to provide better
furniture and school equipment, to provide a school
library or increase the number of its volumes, to improve
the public highways or to improve methods of agriculture.
Begin with a Simple Problem. Usually the teacher
will make greatest progress, unless some impending danger
threatens, by first attacking the problem nearest at
hand. Very early in the term she will be able to cele-
brate Clean-up-and-Beautify Day, when most of the
parents can be interested in cleaning up the school
grounds, in decorating the inside walls of the school-
room, or in providing a school library. For the pur-
pose of decorating the walls of the schoolroom, and of
securing or increasing the school library, the school
may have a box-supper, a pie- or peanut-social, or a
school entertainment. From these simpler beginnings
the community center will easily proceed to an attack
upon the harder problems of community building, such
as better agricultural methods, the improvement of the
public roads, etc.
Vary the Programs. But let no teacher make the mis-
take of first having all the programs for entertainment
and then all later programs for community improvement.
In the first place, no teacher would have time to carry
out such a plan; and in the second place, the people
would tire of it. After the first few programs for enter-
Country Life Programs 183
tainment, selected with reference to seasons or to pre-
vailing conditions, either have each program include both
entertainment and discussions of rural life problems or
have an entertainment alternate with a program of more
One Problem at a Time. Furthermore, it is generally-
unwise to attack too many community improvements
in a single year. The mere discussion of the community's
needs will accomplish very little. Action is necessary
to community improvement. If the community can
make one permanent improvement in a year, that step
will lead in due time to many other permanent improve-
ments; because it so happens that when a community
has once come together for the solution of a problem,
the habit thus acquired and their pride in the thing
accomplished are sufficient stimuli for them to continue
working for community improvement.
Create Friendly Rivalry. If adjoining neighborhoods
can be induced to rival each other in a friendly way in
community improvements, each will have an added
stimulus back of every community undertaking. Cities
rival one another. Why not rural communities? The
spirit of healthful rivalry in community improvements
may be made to grow out of the rivalry of two or more
communities in connection with school athletics, spelling
bees, debates, etc. In any such rivalry, a very effective
but inexpensive device is a school " banner '' to be held
in the custody of the successful school or community.
The skillful teacher can also appropriate this symbol
of community pride as a strong incentive to her pupils
to make their school the best in the contest unit. The
following programs may be suggestive as means of improv-
ing country life in all its phases.
184 The Community Center
Suggestions. (1) This program should have a dual
object: (a) to point out the most prominent fallacies
which are reported to induce country people to move
to the city ; and (6) to indicate the way to make country
life both profitable and enjoyable.
(2) One fallacy in particular should be made plain;
namely, that not every one who goes to the city either
succeeds or has a good time. Many teachers are prone
to hold up to the country boys and girls the men and
women who have achieved success as lawyers, physicians,
politicians, business men, etc., but fail at the same time
to point out that a much larger number have gone to the
city only to be swallowed up in wretched lives of poverty
(3) On the other hand, the advantages of intensive
farming and of the increased prices of farm products
ought to be made prominent in this program. Objection
may be made to the promised advantage of higher prices
for farm products, on the ground that these high prices,
induced by abnormal conditions, will be reduced now
that these conditions are removed. But there are nearly
as many mouths to feed now as then and the destruction
of tillable lands on foreign battlefields has greatly reduced
the productive acreage of the world. Some of our closest
students of economics predict that never again, or not
for many years, shall we be able to purchase farm products
at greatly reduced prices. The enhanced value of farm
lands would seem to bear out this conclusion.
(4) The improved social opportunities of country people
ought also to be given especial attention. Perhaps the
success of the community center has already demon-
Country Life Programs 185
strated this fact. The improvement of public highways,
the use of the automobile, the extension of trolley lines
into country districts, the improvement of schools and
churches, improved methods of agriculture, the rural
telephone, the free delivery of mails, making possible the
daily newspaper, magazines, etc. — all contribute to the
social, moral, and economic welfare of the country people.
The country is now a better place to live in than ever
before, and it promises even more for the future.
1. Song — "Swinging 'Neath the Old Apple Tree"
2. Current events
3. "The Fanner His Own Boss"
4. "Why I Like the Country"
5. "Pitfalls of City Life"
6. Song — "There's a Good Time Coming"
7. " Improvement of the Country Home "
8. "How to Make Living in the Country Enjoyable"
9. "Labor-Saving Devices for the Home"
10. " Some of the Beauties of Country Life"
11. Songs "
Bulletins of the United States Department of Agriculture, Wash-
No. 185 — Beautifying the Home Grounds.
No. 270 — Modern Conveniences for the Farm Home.
No. 494 — Lawn Soil and Lawns.
No. 195 — Annual Flowering Plants.
No. 463 — The Sanitary Privy.
Warner, Being a Boy. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.
Abbott, A Boy on a Farm. American Book Company, New York.
Barbe, Going to College. Hinds, Noble & Eldridge, New York.
1 Some of the bulletins listed above, also those in connection with
subsequent programs, are obtainable now only by paying a nominal
sum of from five cents to twenty cents each.
186 The Community Center
Suggestions. (1) Strange as it may seem, when the
question of improving the country roads is mentioned,
the very people who need them the most are sometimes
the ones who raise the most opposition. The difficulty
here lies in the fact that such a person has not thought
seriously about the matter. His grandfather, his father,
and he^ himself had put up with existing conditions.
Why change the custom?
The following incident is illustrative of how difficult
it is for any one to take the initiative in improving a
bad situation. A year or two ago the writer was driving
along a country road with a county superintendent of
schools. As we climbed a rather steep hill we came upon
a group of teamsters unloading lumber. In response to
an inquiry as to why they were unloading lumber at that
place, the superintendent explained that the road was
so steep for about fifty yards that a full load could not
be hauled over it, so the teamster had either to make the
twenty-five miles with a half load, or else double back for
half the load at the foot of the grade. For a hundred
years the farmers had been making this trip with half
loads because of this fifty yards of steep grade, which
could easily have been improved by a half dozen men in
a few days. The probabilities are that every one of
them had noted his own personal loss and wished that
the grade had been improved, but there had been no
thought of getting the neighborhood together to change
(2) Therefore, the opportunity for the community
center is to get the people together and help them to study
some practical lessons of road building ; for example ;
Country Life Programs 187
Lesson One. If a farmer has one thousand bushels of apples
which he cannot market because of the bad condition of the roads,
and if apples are worth one dollar a bushel, how much does he lose
on account of bad roads?
Lesson Two. If the same farmer pays taxes on $10,000 at the
rate of ten cents on each one hundred dollars in order to have passable
roads to the market, how much does he save the first year on account
of the improved roads?
Lesson Three. If a farmer can haul twice as much and make
twice as many loads on good roads as he can on bad roads, what will
be the value of good roads to him when he hauls two tons of coal
at one dollar a ton, making four loads a day for two hundred days?
Lesson Four. If the same farmer pays $100 in road taxes each
year, in order to have maximum efficiency for himself and his team,
what will be his annual profit?
Lesson Five. If a man pays no taxes whatsoever for the support
of roads that taxpayers improve, why should he vote against a special
Popular Intelligence. The reason why some people
oppose a bond issue or a special road tax for the improve-
ment of public highways is usually because they have
not given these questions intelligent thought. One
great trouble with all propositions involving the raising
of money is that the objectors think only of the total
amount, say fifty thousand dollars, and not of the twenty-
five cents or one dollar or ten dollars that the improve-
ment will cost them individually. For example, at a
certain citizen's meeting where the establishment of a
graded and high school was being discussed, only one
man objected to the proposition. He asked all sorts of
questions and finally remarked that if the proposition
carried he would be a ruined man, that the taxes would
" break him up.'' One of the citizens present publicly
asked this gentleman how that could happen, " when to
my certain knowledge," said he, " your taxes have been
188 The Community Center
returned delinquent for seven years." Another obstacle
is the use of a petition. The dangerous element in the
petition is that the one who circulates it presents only
one side of the question, and, if in opposition, usually
in the most exaggerated form possible; and also that
most people will sign such a petition without much regard
to its meaning, often for the sake of satisfying the peti-
tioner. Upon one occasion, for example, about one
third of the community were found to have signed two
petitions, one for and one against the establishment of a
consolidated school; not that they intended to be dis-
honest, but simply because they did not understand
exactly what they were doing.
The best method of settling the question of building
roads, or of making any other community improvement,
is usually to get the people together at the schoolhouse,
let them have all the information available on the practi-
cal side of the question — including some practical prob-
lems about the roads of the immediate community —
and then let them discuss the proposition in all its phases.
Especially, it should be possible for each individual
to understand the actual cost to him in dollars and cents.
It might be a good plan to have bogus tax-tickets made
out showing each individual just how. much of the amount
to be raised he would actually have to pay in taxes.
The following program is offered as a suggestion for
one meeting. If the proposition should come to an elec-
tion, other programs, or parts of programs, should be
1. Song, led by school choir
2. Current events
3. A map showing the public roads of the neighborhood. (This
Country Life Programs 189
may be drawn on the blackboard by one of the pupils before the
4. ** Inconvenience of the Roads as They Are," by a citizen
5. "Are Our Roads Properly Located?" by a citizen
6. "How Much Does This Community Lose Yearly by Not
Having Good Roads?" by a pupil
8. "What Would It Cost to Make Our Roads What They Should
Be? Would It Pay?" by a citizen
9. "The Best Means of Improving Our Roads," by a citizen
10. "When Should We Begin?" by a citizen
The following farmers' bulletins may be obtained by writing to the
United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. :
No. 95 — Good Roads for Farmers.
No. 505 — Benefits of Supervised Roads.
No. 311 — Sand, Clay and Burnt Clay Roads.
No. 136 — Earth Roads.
No. 321 — The Split-Log Drag.
No. 31 — Mileage and Cost of Public Roads in the United States.
No. 39 — Highway Bridges and Culverts.
No. 95 — Special Road Problems of the United States.
No. 338 — Macadam Roads.
This is a beautiful custom that has lately come into
American life. Sentiment is the dominant idea and this
is well, for we all reverence and honor motherhood. Upon
this occasion ministers or other speakers pay the highest
tribute to motherhood. On Mother's Day everybody is
expected to wear a flower, a colored one if his mother is
living, and a white one if she is dead.
Unfortunately, the observance of Mother's Day has
thus far been confined mainly to the citie^. All honor
190 The Community Center
to mothers everywhere; but to the mothers living on
the farms we owe our especial gratitude. As a rule, the
country mother toils from early morning till late at night
in addition to caring for her children. She makes great
sacrifices for her children, and she is deserving of our pro-
foundest respect and admiration.
Suggestions. (1) It has occurred to us that we might
improve greatly our present custom of observing Mother's
Day. Suppose, for example, that when we come together
at the country church or the schoolhouse to observe
Mother's Day, we spend at least part of the time in the
discussion of ways and means of improving the conditions
under which the mother shall rear her children and perform
her other duties in a country home. If such discussion
should result in one or more definite improvements of
this kind in even a few homes of the community, would
not that add more to the comforts and the joys of mothers
than any amount of praise in the form of words only?
For mother can scarcely appreciate fully the praise we
give her, if, after the exercises in her honor are over, she
has to return to a poorly equipped kitchen to prepare
the Sunday dinner or, worse still, if she had to stay at
home to prepare dinner while the rest of us went to church
to speak her praise.
In justice to the fathers it ought, perhaps, to be said
that their failure to provide the best possible comforts
for their wives is not so very often due to willful neglect.
It is due rather, we surmise, to the fact that their mothers
lived under similar conditions. Why, therefore, should
their wives expect better conveniences than their own
mothers enjoyed? It is the same old story as of roads
and schools. In any such circumstances, prejudice or
custom, not reason, rules our actions.
Country Life Programs 191
(2) Another reason why this bad situation obtains in
so many country homes is the fact that the farmer, if he
reasons on the matter at all, feels that first of all he has
to make the living for his family. His wife's work seems
to be a matter of course. So, if money is to be spent for
improvements about the farm home, the conveniences
of farm labor, not the conveniences of the kitchen, take
precedence. Almost invariably running water is in-
stalled at the barn before it is installed in the kitchen.
If machinery is to be purchased, it is usually farm machin-
ery, not the machinery necessary in the kitchen and
about the home.
A few years ago the writer stopped at a farm home for
dinner. Upon entering the home he noticed the wife
with a water pail in each hand ascending a rather steep
hill to a mountain spring for drinking water. Upon
inquiry he learned that heirs of the grandfather who first
settled there and built his home had for a hundred years
carried drinking water from that spring which, as nearly
as could be ascertained, was about one sixteenth of a mile
from the dwelling house. This situation suggested the
following arithmetic problem: If some member of this
family had made only two trips to that spring each day
for drinking water, how far had some one traveled in
these hundred years to supply that home with drinking
water alone? Two trips a day, one sixteenth of a mile
each way, make one fourth of a mile traveled each day ;
in one year some one traveled 91 J miles ; and in 100 years
some one had traveled 100 times 91 J miles, or 9125 miles.
That would be about the equivalent of walking three
times the distance between New York and San Francisco.
This situation was at the opposite extreme from one
which was found shortly afterwards at another farm home.
192 The Community Center
At a community center meeting there had been a discus-
sion about the possibihty of instaUing running water
in the homes by piping it from springs at higher levels.
One man at least got the idea. Following this suggestion
he built a cement tank just below a spring on the hill-
side above his home. He calculated the size of the tank
that would be necessary to furnish him also with sufficient
water power to run certain of his farm machinery. Then
he piped the water from the spring into the tank and from
the tank into his home and his bam. He came to be so
fascinated with this idea that in time he was running
nearly everything about the place, in the form of a ma-
chine, with this water power. Readers who have been
boys on a farm can imagine the joy of the two boys
in this home when the father attached this water power
to the old grindstone.
2. Devotional exercises
3. Current events
4. "What Mother Means to Me," by a pupil
5. "How I Help My Mother," by a pupil
6. "How Mother Helps Me," by a pupil
8. "How to Install Running Water in the Country Home," by
9. "Conveniences Which I Need in the Kitchen," by a mother
10. "The Mother's Part in Making the Living in a Farm Home,"
by a mother
11. Songs, and a social half hour
Suggestions. (1) This program may serve as a sort
of general introduction to a number of programs dealing
with particular phases of farming. This and all other
Country Life Programs 193
farm programs should be made as practical as possible
because, if the people are interested at all, they desire
some very definite help on the problems that actually
(2) A motion picture or a lantern-slide lecture may
prove helpful in driving home some practical suggestions.
If neither of these is available, then perhaps the county
agricultural agent, the county superintendent of schools,
or a progressive farmer, either in the community or in
an adjoining one, can be secured to discuss some of the
most vital problems of the farmers and of the farmers'
wives. But if none of these special features can be pro-
vided, then let the people discuss their problems among
2. Current events
3. "Improved Farm Machinery as Labor Savers," by a farmer
4. "Boys' and Girls' Agricultural Clubs as Farmers' Training
5. "How to Make Farm Life Happier for Farm Women," by a
7. "How to Spend the Leisure Hours"
8. "How to Make Better Use of the Telephone and the Parcel
9. "How to Use the School as a Farm Asset "
10. Songs, and a social half hour
Butterfield, Chapters in Rural Progress. University of Chicago Press,
Bailey, The State and the Farmer. Macmillan Company, New York.
Bailey, The Training of Farmers. The Century Company, New
194 The Community Center
Butterfield, The Country Church and the Rural Problem. University
of Chicago Press, Chicago, 111.
Suggestions. (1) This program should be made pri-
marily instructive. Many people living in the country
have never had the opportunity of learning even the sim-
plest laws of health. They do not have the facilities
for sanitary living that the city affords. A few definite
suggestions about the house fly, its breeding places,
and its relation to typhoid may be the means of avoiding
a typhoid epidemic in the community. Other maladies,
such as tuberculosis, colds, and the various contagious
diseases, are good subjects for discussions.
(2) Nothing could be more appropriate on a health
program than some plain suggestions relative to personal
hygiene. In such discussions the teacher will, of course,
use due caution not to offend or to allow the discussion
to go beyond its proper limitations.
(3) It is a very good plan to have a local physician
address the meeting. He is in position to say to the people
what the teacher would not dare to say or what one
parent could not say to the others. His experience
among the homes will enable him to emphasize the
things most important to the health of the community.
(4) The motion picture companies now have excellent
films showing the' ravages of the house fly, the causes of
tuberculosis, the dangers of stagnant water, etc. These
films are far more impressive than any amount of " lec-
(5) In a good many communities the physicians could
be interested in making a medical inspection of the school
without fees. A report of such an inspection would open
Country Life Programs 195
the eyes of the community as perhaps nothing else
One program is offered below. Others may be prepared
from time to time as occasion warrants.
2. Current events
3. "How the House Fly Spreads Disease"
4. "Why Ventilate the Bedroom"
5. "Why We Have Colds"
7. "The Principal Causes of Disease in This Community," by a
A motion picture
Bulletins of U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. :
No. 463 — The Sanitary Privy.
No. 345 — Some Common Disinfectants.
No. 393 — Habit-forming Agents.
No. 459 — House Flies.
No. 115 — How Insects Affect Health.
No. 377 — Harmfulness of Headache Mixtures.
Suggestions. (1) This program may be offered in
the fall after the corn has been harvested, when the farm-
ers or the boys' club bring their best products to the
school for exhibition. It would take the form of an agri-
cultural fair or exhibit. Or, if a corn program be arranged
in the spring, it may be turned to very practical use by
instruction as to the testing of seed corn, the preparing
of the soil for planting, the best method of cultivation,
etc. If possible, have the county agricultural agent or
196 The Community Center
other agricultural expert present to offer suggestions
that will be of real help to the farmers. Or, perhaps some
farmer of the community can offer as capable service
as could some one secured from the outside.
(2) Let every one be free to ask questions after the
speaker has finished his address.
2. Current events
3. "The Varieties of Corn Best Adapted to This State"
4. "Preparing the Seed Bed"
5. "Corn Cultivation"
7. "Corn as a Food for Animals"
8. "Corn and the Silo"
9. "How to Test Seed Corn"
Bulletins of U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. :
Farmers' Bulletin No. 253, The Germination of Seed Corn.
Farmers' Bulletin No. 414, Corn Cultivation.
Farmers' Bulletin No. 313, Harvesting and Storing Com.
Farmers' Bulletin No. 415, Seed Corn.
Farmers' Bulletin No. 298, Food Value of Corn and Corn Prod-
Suggestions. (1) In a community where apples are
grown or where the soil and climate are favorable to their
production, a program dealing with their cultivation, use,
and marketing may be offered in " apple time.'' The
teacher should invite the apple growers to bring a few
of their choice fruits for exhibition. A prize may be
offered for the best exhibit.
Country Life Programs 197
(2) It will add materially to the effectiveness of this
program, if the county agricultural agent or a horticul-
tural expert can be secured to meet with the people at
one of the orchards in the community and give demon-
strations at the proper seasons in transplanting trees,
tree pruning, gathering the crop, packing for market,
2. Current events
3. "Why This Is a Good Apple-producing State"
4. "Best Varieties of Apples for This State"
5. "The Transplanting of Trees"
6. "Pruning the Young Trees"
8. "Pruning an Old Orchard"
9. " Diseases and Their Remedies (Spraying) "
10. " Picking and Packing Apples "
11. "Marketing Apples"
United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C,
Circular No. 7, Orchard Spraying.
Farmers' Bulletin No. 291, Evaporation of Apples.
Suggestions. (1) Organize a poultry club among the
boys and girls. Secure the cooperation of the county
agricultural agent or of a representative of the state
college of agriculture. Valuable literature and many
suggestions can be obtained in this way.
(2) Find out who among the community are especially
interested in poultry raising, and enlist their help in this
198 The Community Center
(3) If possible arrange for a poultry show. Offer
prizes for the best birds exhibited. If near a town, it
will usually be possible to interest the bankers and mer-
chants in offering the prizes.
2. Current events
3. "Are We Keeping Enough Fowls?"
4. "The Kind of Fowls to Keep"
5. "Cooperative Marketing of Eggs"
6. "Marketing Eggs by Parcel Post"
7. "Poultry Buildings"
8. "Feeding Poultry"
9. "Feeding Young Chicks"
10. "Poultry Diseases and Remedies"
Bulletins of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. :
Farmers' Bulletin No. 287, Poultry Management.
Farmers' Bulletin No. 51, Standard Varieties of Chickens.
Farmers' Bulletin No. 528, Hints to Poultry Raisers.
Circular No. 208 (Animal Industry Bureau), The Organization
of Girls' Poultry Clubs.
Bulletin No. 140 (Animal Industry Bureau), Fattening Poultry.
Suggestions. (1) It is not essential that a farm be
called a dairy farm before there is a dairying business.
The man who has two or three cows may be a dairyman
on a small scale.
(2) Have the most successful dairymen or farmers
relate some of their experiences and offer suggestions.
(3) If at all possible, secure a Babcock milk tester and
test the milk of several cows. This can easily be done.
• Country Life Programs 199
Invite the farmers to bring a bottle of milk from each
cow, labeling the bottles so that they may know what
per cent of butter fat each cow produces. There will
be no lack of interest while these tests are being made.
They will result in the farmers' disposing of those cows
that prove to be merely " boarders."
(4) If it can be so arranged, have a day meeting at
one of the farms, where the cows can be judged under the
direction of an agricultural expert.
2. Current events
3. "Good Points about a Dairy Cow"
4. "Care and Feeding of Cows"
5. "Some Common Diseases of Cows and the Remedies"
6. "Best Breeds of Dairy Cows"
7. "The Advantages of the Cream Separator"
8. "Testing of Samples of Milk"
Bulletins of U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. :
Circular No. 205 (Animal Industry Bureau), Milk and Cheese
Farmers' Bulletin No. 106, Breeds of Dairy Cattle.
Farmers' Bulletin No. 55, The Dairy Herd: Its Formation and
- Bulletin No. 34 (Animal Industry Bureau), American Breeds of
Cattle with Remarks on Pedigrees.
Farmers' Bulletin No. 241, Buttermaking on the Farm.
Farmers' Bulletin No. 413, The Care of Milk and Its Use in the
Suggestions. (1) Alfalfa is a comparatively new crop
in many sections of the country and many farmers know
200 The Community Center
very little about either its value or the methods of pro-
ducing it. It is believed some soils will not produce it.
This program more than any of the others, perhaps, needs
the assistance of the agricultural expert.
(2) If possible, find a person who has successfully grown
alfalfa, and ask him to explain all about it.
(3) Secure literature from or through the state agri-
cultural college, and a week or two before the meeting
put this literature into the hands of persons who will
study the problem and report at the meeting.
2. Current events
3. "History of Alfalfa," by a pupil
4. "What Alfalfa Does for the Soil and How"
5. "The Kind of Soil Necessary for the Growth of Alfalfa"
6. "Application of Lime"
7. "Inoculating the Soil"
8. "Time to Seed and How"
9. "Alfalfa as a Hay"
Cotton Belt, by Alfored, International Harvester Company, Chicago,
Write the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C,
and your State College of Agriculture for literature and other*
It may be well to devote at least one or two meetings
to the discussion of general farm problems. The fol-
lowing topics are offered, from which a selection may be
made to suit the needs of any particular community :
Country Life Programs 201
Farm labor Fanning as a business
Soil depletion Cooperation among farmers
Noxious weeds Marketing of crops
Insect pests Truck farming
Tenancy Land values
Better farming Farm machinery
Butterfield, Chapters in Rural Progress. University of Chicago
Plunkett, Rural Life Problems in the United States. Macmillan
Company, New York.
Carney, Country Life and the Country School. Row, Peterson and
Carver, Selected Readings in Rural Economics. Ginn and Company,
Carver, Principles of Rural Economics. Ginn and Company, Boston.
The following are a few programs selected at random
from a large number that have been rendered in rural
schools. They have the advantage of showing how some
of the community center meetings work out in actual
practice. These programs are typical of the literary
exercises that used to be so common at the schoolhouse
and that still survive in some places in a not greatly modi-
fied form. They may be greatly improved, but mean-
while they may serve a good purpose as suggestions.
202 The Community Center
Debate: Resolved, That conventions are better suited to the
people than primaries.
Reading of the school paper
Song — "America"
Song and music, by five girls
Debate: Resolved, That art is more attractive to the eye than
Election of officers
Talk, by a citizen.
Song — "America"
Wit and humor
Debate: Resolved, That Washington did more for his country
Cotmtry Life Programs 203
Story — "Little Brother"
Reading — "Calling WiUie"
Debate: Resolved, That we receive more knowledge through
reading than through observation.
Reading — "Nolan's Speech'
Song — "The Star-Spangled Banner'
Reading — "Aversion to Slang"
204 The Community Center
Debate : Resolved, That fire is more destructive than water.
Debate : Resolved, That military training should be made compul-
sory for young men.
The following programs are taken from a bulletin of
the Iowa State Teachers College. ^ They are programs
which have actually been rendered in community centers
in the vicinity of Cedar Falls, Iowa.
Song — "Grasshopper Green"
Song — " A Doll's Lullaby "
Dramatizing Mother Goose Rhymes
Music — choice selections on the victrola \
Discussion : Keeping Records in the Chicken Business, conducted
by a number of interested people in the community.
» June, 1916.
Country Life Programs 205
Song — "Jolly Eskimos"
Dialogue — " Susanna's Illness "
Song — "If I Only Had a Home, Sweet Home"
Dramatization of language lesson
Dialogue — "Pineville Baby Show"
Discussion : Corn Raising in Blackhawk County.
A group of songs
Out-of-door games (The automobiles were placed in a circle about
the volley ball court so that their headlights lighted up the court
sufficiently to play the game very well)
Supper and social hour indoors (Everybody spent the hour
getting acquainted with everybody else)
Illustrated lecture — "The Building of Panama Canal'
Supper and social hour.
Debate : Resolved, That a clean, cranky housewife is better than
a dirty, good-natured one.
Discussion of Hog Cholera by the United States Government
Parade by those in hard-times costumes
Mutt and Jeff
Presentation of prizes for best hard-times costume
Talk — " Better Schools "
206 The Community Center
Flag salute, by the school
Song — "Little George Washington," by the school
Hatchet drill, by intermediate grade pupils
Recitation — "A Modern Washington"
Recitation — "Truthful George"
Recitation — " George Washington "
Recitation — "Which General?"
Dialogue — "A Pair of Scissors," by five girls
Military drill, by twelve boys
' "Song of Washington," by six girls
Virginia reel in costume, by the grown people of the community
"America," sung by all
" Corn is King," chart explained by pupil in sixth grade
Informal discussion of corn growing, by farmers present
"Christmas Lullaby," by pupils of the school
Reading contest, between pupils of Greeley School and pupils
from the Hearst School
Essay — "Christmas Customs"
Guessing contest with silhouettes
Refreshments and social hour
Dialogue — "Thanksgiving on the Farm"
Song — " The Goblin Man "
" Glad to Be a Little Girl"
Illustrated talk on com growing
A Prophecy. The theme of this book, which we have
tried to put into the form of suggestions, is embodied in
Country Life Programs 207
a prophecy for the future rural community, eloquently
expressed by Dr. Frederick T. Gates in a pamphlet en-
titled The Country School of Tomorrow, from which we
take the liberty of quoting a few paragraphs.
A new science or a new art, just now in process, perhaps not yet
come to self-consciousness, shall be fully developed for our schools —
the art of recreation for young and old, for all pursuits, for all seasons,
for both sexes, indoors, out of doors. Some sweet, healthful, happy,
adapted recreation shall enter into the program, not occasionally,
but every day, for young and old alike. Ultimately, there will be
professors of popular recreation. They shall be sent to us from the
colleges, to teach us all the ways of relief from strain and tedium,
precisely adapted. And all together we shall have our weekly half
holiday for community recreations.
Beauty, too, we shall cultivate no less than recreation. It is
deHghtful to know that the sense of beauty in sight and sound is
instinctive in mankind, ineradicable, fundamental as hunger. Deeper
than intelligence it lies in our physical being, and runs down man-
kind through many orders to the very insects. The sense of beauty
in our rural children, as yet almost uncultivated and undeveloped,
is a promising field of joy and blessedness. Accordingly, there shall
be music, vocal and instrumental. We shall have an orchestra — if
possible, a band, a chorus — and dancing shall be taught in utmost
grace of movement, beginning with the littlest children, singly and
in groups. The laws of beauty are indeed little known as yet, but
scenes of beauty shall everywhere be pointed out and analyzed and
dwelt upon to the full, and the art of drawing them shall be offered
to all, as a means of close observation, of analysis, and of more per-
fect recognition and enjoyment of beauty.
So we have brought our little community at last to art and refine-
ment. Such a people will demand literature and a library of their
own. And when they begin to select and to read good books for
themselves, our particular task will be done. We may leave them
then, I think, to their natural local leaders. We have taught them
how to live the life of the farm, of the fireside, of the rural community,
to make it healthful, intelligent, efficient, productive, social, and
no longer isolated. We have wakened sluggishness to interest and
inquiry. We have given the mind, in the intelligent conduct of the
208 The Community Center
daily vocation, in the study and enjoyment of nature, material for
some of the joys of the intellectual life. We have trained the eye
for beauty, the ear for harmony, the soul for gentleness and courtesy,
and made possible to these least of Christ's brethren the life of love
and joy and admiration. We have made country life more desirable
than city life and raised up in the country the natural aristocracy of
Such is our dream. Must it be altogether a dream? Surely,
it ought to be and, therefore, will be, realized, if not in its processes
— and I have described processes at all mainly for pictorial effect
— certainly in its results. If it be an achievement beyond our present
civilization, then our more enlightened and capable children will
certainly accomplish it. Come, in the end, it must and will.
I. Problems of Rural Life in General
Anderson, Wilbert L. The Country Town. The Baker and Taylor
Company, New York, 1906.
Are, Julius Bernhard. Rural Education and the Consolidated
School. World Book Company, Yonkers, N. Y., 1919.
Bailey, Liberty H. The Country Life Movement. Macmillan
Company, New York, 1911.
BuTTERFiELD, Kenyon L. Chapters in Rural Progress. The Univer-
sity of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1908.
BuTTERFiELD, Kenyon L. The Country Church and the Rural
Problem. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1911.
Carney, Mabel. Country Life and the Country School. Row,
Peterson & Company, Chicago, 1912.
Carver, Thomas Nixon. Principles of Rural Economics. Ginn &
Company, Boston, 1911.
Challman, S. a. The Rural School Plant. The Bruce Publishing
Company, Milwaukee, 1917.
Cubberley, Ellwood p. Rural Life and Education. Houghton
Mifflin Company, Boston, 1914.
Dewey, Evelyn. New Schools for Old. E. P. Button & Company,
New York, 1919.
Dewey, John. Democracy and Education. Macmillan Company,
New York, 1916.
Dewey, J. and E. Schools of Tomorrow. E. P. Dutton & Company,
New York, 1915.
FiSKE, G. W. The Challenge of the Country — A Study of Country
Life Opportunity. Association Press, New York, 1912.
Galpin, C. J. Rural Life. The Century Company, New York,
Gillette, J. M. Constructive Rural Sociology. Sturgis and Walton,
New York, 1913.
King, I. Education for Social Efficiency. D. Appleton & Company,
New York, 1915.
KiRKPATRiCK, M. G. The Rural School from Within. J. B. Lippin-
cott Company, Philadelphia, 1917.
Lewis, Howard T. The Rural School and the Community. Richard
G. Badger, Boston, 1918.
McFee, Inez N. The Teacher, the School, and the Community,
American Book Company, New York, 1918.
Moore, Ernest Carroll. What the War Teaches about EduAiation.
Macmillan Company, New York, 1919.
Ogden, H. N. Rural Hygiene. Macmillan Company, New York,
Pearson, Francis B. The Reconstructed School. World Book
Company, Yonkers, N. Y., 1919.
Plunkett, Sir Horace. The Rural Life Problem of the United
States. Macmillan Company, New York, 1910.
Report of the Commission on Country Life. Sturgis & Walton Com-
pany, New York, 1911.
Sanford, a. H. The Story of Agriculture in the United States. D. C.
Heath & Company, New York, 1915.
Sims, N. L. Ultimate Democracy and Its Making. A. C. McClurg
& Company, Chicago, 1917.
Smith, S. G. Social Pathology. Macmillan Company, New York,
Steinmetz, C. p. America and the New Epoch. Harper & Brothers,
New York, 1916.
Weeks, Ruth Mary. Socializing the Three R's. Macmillan Com-
pany, New York, 1919.
Wilkinson, W. A. Rural School Management. Silver, Burdett &
Company, Boston, 1917.
Wilson, W. H. Evolution of the Country Community. The Pilgrim
Press, Boston, 1912.
WooFTER, T. J. Teaching in Rural Schools. Houghton Mifflin
Company, Boston, 1917.
II. Community Centers
Dewey, John. The School and Society. University of Chicago
Galpin, C. J. Rural Social Centers in Wisconsin. University of
Wisconsin, Bulletin 234.
King, Irving. Education for Social Efficiency. D. Appleton &
Company, New York, 1913.
Perry, Clarence Arthur. Extension of Public Education. United
States Bureau of Education Bulletin, 1915.
School as a Factor in Neighborliood Development, Russell Sage
Foundation, New York, 1914.
Ward, Edward J. Social Center. D. Appleton & Company, New
Bancroft, Jessie H. Games for the Playground, Home, School and
Gymnasium. Macmillan Company, New York, 1909.
Brooks, Eugene C. Agricultural and Rural Life Day. United
States Bureau of Education, Bulletin No. 40, 1913.
Curtis, Henry S. Play and Recreation in the Open Country. Ginn
& Company, Boston, 1914.
Eggleston, Joseph Dupuy. Work of the Rural School. Harper &
Brothers, New York, 1913.
Elson, J. C, and Trilling, Blanche M. Social Games and Group
Dances. J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1919.
Farwell, Parris Thaxter. Village Improvement. Sturgis &
Walton Company, New York, 1913.
Hanmer, Lee F., and Knight, Howard R. Sources of Information
on Play and Recreation. The Department of Recreation, Russell
Sage Foundation, New York, 1915.
Hanmer, Lee F. The Gary Public Schools Report on Physical Train-
ing and Play. General Education Board, New York, 1918.
Lee, Joseph. Play in Education. Macmillan Company, New York,
McKeever, William A. Farm Boys and Girls. Macmillan Com-
pany, New York, 1912.
Bates, Esther Willard. Pageants and Pageantry. Ginn & Com-
pany, New York, 1912.
Chubb, Percival, and associates. Festivals and Plays in School
and Elsewhere. Harper & Brothers, New York, 1912.
Frank, Maude Morrison. Short Plays about Famous Authors,
Henry Holt & Company, New York, 1915.
Greet, Ben. Guide and Index to Plays, Festivals and Masques.
Doubleday, Page & Company, New York, 1912.
Mackey, Constance D'Arcy. Costumes and Scenery for Amateurs
— A Practical Working Handbook. Henry Holt & Company,
New York, 1915.
SCHAUFFLER, ROBERT H. Our American Holidays. Moffat, Yard
& Company, New York.
Stern, Renie B. Neighborhood Entertainments. Sturgis & Walton
Company, New York, 1910.
Walker, Alice Johnston. Little Plays from American History for
Young Folks. Henry Holt & Company, New York, 1914.
Wade, Mary Hazelton. Little Folks* Plays of American Heroes.
Richard G. Badger, Boston, 1914.
Catalogues of Silver, Burdett & Company and C. C. Birchard &
Beacon Series of Vocal Selections. Silver, Burdett & Company,
Alexander, Birdie. Songs We Like to Sing. Silver, Burdett &
Company, Boston, 1912.
Parker, McConathy, Miessner & Birge. Progressive Music
Series — One Book Course for Ungraded Schools and Community
Singing. Silver, Burdett & Company, Boston, 1917.
Parsons, Gertrude. High School Song Book. Silver, Burdett &
Company, Boston, 1919.
Bernheimer, Charles Siligman, and Cohen, Jacob M. Boys* ClvJbs.
The Baker & Taylor Company, New York, 1914.
BuRRELL, Mrs. Caroline Benedict. Woman's Club Work and
Programs; or First Aid to Club Woman. The Page Company,
Puffer, J. Adams. The Boy and His Gang. Houghton Mifflin
Company, Boston, 1912.
Roberts, Joseph T. Primer of Parliamentary Law. Doubleday,
Page & Company, New York.
Agricultiiral clubs, 131.
Agricultiiral fair, 83.
Alfalfa, suggestions for a program
Amateur theatricals, 152-157.
Apple, the, suggestions for a program
Athletics and play, 132.
Bailey, Dr. L. H., 65.
Better farming, suggestions for a
program entitled, 192-194.
Better teaching, 90.
Bible stories, suggestions for a pro-
gram entitled, 175—176.
Boys' and girls' agricultural clubs,
Bureau of Education, United States,
4, 77; bulletins of, 135; free
literature available from, 126 ;
Home Division of, 125.
Butterfield, Dr. Kenyon L., 129.
Capital stock, 88.
Gary, C. P., 115.
Child Welfare Magazine, 125.
Christmas program, 161-162.
Church, the rural, 23-26.
Claxton, Dr. P. P., 4, 125.
Clean-up-and-Beautify Day, 182.
Collier, John, 54.
Columbus Day, suggested program
for celebration of, 148-149.
Common interests, 45.
Comm\inity, a definition of, 40.
Community and National Life, Les-
sons in, 4.
Community building, 181.
Community center idea, the, 40.
Commimity center, a function of,
51 ; a meeting place, 49 ; an or-
ganization, 51 ; initial steps, 142 ;
ultimate aim of, 141.
Commimity cooperation, how some
teachers have secured it, 94.
Community interests, 42, 44.
Community history, 83.
Community leaders, developing of , 35.
Community survey, 81, 107.
Contracts of teachers, legal and
Constructive program, developing
Country life, suggestions for a pro-
gram entitled, 184r-185.
Crothers, Dr. Samuel M., 8.
Cultural ideal, 60.
Current events, 61, 119.
Dairying, suggestions for a program
Davis, Professor B. M., 91.
Day meetings, advantages of, 115.
Debate, suggestions for, 149-152.
Demonstration work, 119.
Department of Agriculture, United
Entertainment for profit, 136-140.
Evening classes, 84, 135.
Extra dividends, 88.
Farm pageant, 157.
Farmers' clubs, 26, 129-131.
Farm problems, suggestions for a
program entitled, 200-201.
Finley, Dr. John H., 2.
Fisk, Dr. Eugene Lyman, 59.
Foght, Harold W., 59.
Food Administration, 2, 12, 13.
Food Pledge Card Campaign, 6, 12, 88.
Foster, Warren Dunham, 49, 51,
Galpin, C. J., 40, 41.
Gates, Dr. Frederick T., 207.
Good roads, suggestions for a pro-
gram entitled, 186-189.
Grange, the, 49, 129-131.
Gulick, Dr. Luther H., 53.
Gymnastic drills and games, 119.
Haberman, Eugene, 54.
Halloween social, 158-160.
Harvest Home Day, 160.
Health program, 194-195.
Historical pageant, 156-157.
Hogan, Jr., John, 47, 48.
Hoosier Schoolmaster, 145.
Hoover, Herbert, 1, 4.
Illiteracy, the problem of, 135.
Improved living conditions, 45.
Indian, the, suggestions for a pro-
gram entitled, 173-174.
Individual interests, 44.
Judd, Dr. Charles H., 4.
Kelley, Oliver H., 129.
King Corn, suggestions for a program
Larson, W. E., 69, 106.
Leadership, agencies for rural, 20
an example of unconscious, 31
meaning of, 18; the necessity of
17 ; present status of rural, 18
secret of, 30; strategic position
of school for, 28; teacher may
Lecture course, 85.
Leisure, the enjoyment of, 57-70.
Lessons in Community and National
Life, 4, 5.
Liberty Bond drives, 6, 88.
Lincoln's Birthday, suggestions for
a program celebrating, 179-180.
Local history, suggestions for a pro-
gram entitled, 174-175.
Marshall, Dean Leon C, 4.
Moore, Miss Agnes, 55.
Mother's Day, suggestions for a
program celebrating, 189-192.
Motion pictures, 169-173.
Music program, 162-165.
National Congress of Mothers, 124.
National Education Association, 3.
National patriotism, 86.
New Creek school, 36-39.
Old Home Week Celebration, 157.
Organization, 51-53, 105.
Parent-teacher associations, 124-129.
Personal interests, 61-6-4.
Play and athletics, 132.
Plunkett, Sir Horace, 19.
Potato race, 133.
Poultry, suggestions for a program
Presbyterian Board, 23.
Programs, current events a promi-
nent feature of, 143; day, 115;
for entertainment, 141-180; for
special occasions, 120; participa-
tion in by parents. 122; special
school, 115-123; suited to com-
munity, 141 ; variation of, 142.
Red Cross drives, 6, 88.
Roads, good, program for, 186-189 ;
lessons in building, 187.
Roosevelt, Theodore, 20.
Ruediger, Dr. W. C. 57.
Rural church, the, 23-27.
Rural home, the, 20-21.
Rural leadership, agencies for, 20;
present status of, 18.
Rural school, the, as agency of
leadership, 28; lack of incentives
in, 98 ; strate^c position of, 28.
Rural surveys, in Illinois, 72; in
School attendance, 84, 96, 97.
School athletics, 87.
School community, the, 41.
School exhibit, 83.
School extension work, 27.
School libraries, 86.
Selected programs, 201-206.
Smith-Lever Act, 74.
Social capital, 78.
Special occasions, programs for,
Spelling bee, 144-146.
State leadership, 19.
Stories of great men, a program, 166.
Teacher, the, as leader, 29; the
strategic position of, 32.
Three-legged race, 133.
Travel program, 167-169.
Tug of war, 134.
Tustin, Lloyd T., 80.
Virginia, school improvement leagues
Visiting days, 121.
Vocational ideal, 60.
Wagner, Dr. Charles A., 128.
Ward, Edward J., 48.
Washington's Birthday, suggestions
for a program celebrating, 177-179.
Wilson, Miss Margaret Woodrow,
WUson, Dr. Warren H., 23, 72.
Wilson, Woodrow, letter from, 3;
active support of, 50.
Wisconsin plan, the, 115.
Written work, exhibits of, 119.
Ye Old Time School Days. 147-148.
Zueblin, Professor Charles, 8.
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